IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE VINEYARDS

 Cabernet Franc is the original “Cabernet” grape, being the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon (a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc). This varietal ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon,  making it ideal for the cool slopes of the Helderberg region.

The vines are grown on south-west facing slopes of the The Schapenberg, Somerset West. The farm is about 5 kilometers from the sea, with vines planted at a height of between 240 and 260 meters above sea level.

At Waterkloof we do not spray herbicides or pesticides in our vineyards. We produce our own compost and biodynamic preparations which we then distribute into our soil using Percheron horses rather than tractors. This ensures soil with more life, where the vine can spread its roots as it pleases, taking up everything it needs from this rich and complex soil. This leads to terroir-driven wines, which are truly a reflection of  our vineyard site.

The soils are of decomposed granite origin with medium size stones, helping with both drainage and good moisture retention.  Strong south-easterly winds occurred during the growing season, which helped to control growth and crop. The vineyards are 9 years old. Production was approximately 3 tons/ha.

 

A GENTLE HAND

All our grapes our hand-picked, cooled overnight and then processed the following morning. The Cabernet Franc grapes were de-stemmed, hand-sorted so that only the best berries were placed into wooden fermenters via our winery’s gravity-flow system. The alcoholic fermentation started spontaneously using the natural occurring yeast found on our chemical free vines.

Punch downs took place twice a day (not pump-overs) during fermentation to ensure a moderate extraction of colour and tannin. The wines spent a total of 35 days on the skins to help integrate the tannins, resulting in a well-rounded wine. The skins were separated from the juice via gravity-flow and then gently pressed in a basket press. All the wine went through malolactic fermentation in French barrels, and was then aged for 20 months. We make the wine as naturally as possible, with no additions of acids or enzymes allowed.

 

AND A FEW PRAYERS TO MOTHER NATURE: THE 2011/12 GROWING SEASON

Winter seems to be the foundation on which every new season is built. It sets up the vines for the coming growing season and its effects can be felt throughout. We experienced very cold weather in the early part of winter, which allowed for even bud break in spring. Vines did bud a bit earlier than normal due to the warmer weather experienced during the latter part of winter. Rainfall was very low during the winter period which is always a problem in areas where we rely on winter rains for our dams as well as to fill up the ground water levels. The dry conditions followed through into summer with a smaller crop the result. Very warm weather in early January caused sunburn in dry land areas and had a negative effect on the size of the crop. Fortunately the warm spell was followed by cooler temperatures for the rest of the ripening period. Grapes could ripen properly and harvest started about 2 weeks later than normal due to the cool growing conditions during the final ripening period.

 

A TASTING NOTE FROM THE GLASS OF NADIA BARNARD

On the nose this is a classic Cabernet Franc with notes of blackberry, black pepper and thyme. The mouth feel is long, elegant with a memorable finish. Cabernet Franc’s liveliness makes it an excellent wine to pair with many different dishes. A slow roasted lamb shank rubbed in rosemary would complement the wine very well.

 

THE NUMBERS (3 405 BOTTLES PRODUCED)

Alc: 14.5%
TA: 4.4 g/l
pH: 3.71
RS: 1.1 g/l