IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE VINEYARDS
Cabernet Franc is the original “Cabernet” grape, being one of the parents 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 Schapenberg, Somerset West. The farm is a mere 4km from The Atlantic Ocean, 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 disperse into our soil by using work-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 complex soil. This leads to terroir-driven wines – a true reflection of our vineyard site.
The soils are of decomposed granite origin with medium sized stones, helping with both drainage and moisture retention. Strong south-easterly winds occur during the growing season, which helps to control growth and crop size. The vineyards are 11 years old. Production was approximately – 3 tons/ha. In other words, packed full of flavor!
A GENTLE HAND
We harvest according to taste and find it essential to spend a lot of time in the vineyards to see how the flavours develop. All our grapes are 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 the wooden fermenters via our winery’s gravity-flow system. The alcoholic fermentation started spontaneously by using the natural occurring yeasts found in our chemical-free vineyards.
Punch downs took place twice a day (not pump-overs) during fermentation to ensure a moderate extraction of colour and tannin. The wine spent a total of 30 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 mainly 2nd and 3rd fill French barrels and was then aged for 23 months. We make the wine as natural and untamed as possible, with no additions of acids or enzymes.
AND A FEW PRAYERS TO MOTHER NATURE: THE 2014/2015 GROWING SEASON
The Stellenbosch area experienced a good winter with sufficient rain to fill the dams and enough cold units during July to have the vines in full dormancy. From August, the temperatures started to rise slowly and spring arrived early with flowering occurring under ideal conditions. This ensured even ripeness, which contributed to excellent grape quality. We experienced windy conditions during this stage, which led to looser bunches and helped to attain lower yields and more concentration.
Rainfall fell off dramatically from September with warm, dry weather and fewer strong winds. Throughout the growing season, temperatures remained moderate, with intermittent hot days. Veraison started approximately 2 weeks earlier than usual.
For the rest of the growing season we saw little rain which resulted in very low disease pressure. Even though the days were warm, the evenings cooled down nicely.
The 2015 harvest was the earliest to date at Waterkloof. We started picking two weeks earlier than usual, due to the early spring but hang time was sufficient to allow phenolic ripeness. The quality of the fruit was exceptional: low pH, high acidity and clean fruit with little to no rot.
A TASTING NOTE FROM THE GLASS OF NADIA BARNARD
Lovely red fruit nuances, especially sour cherries, – and spice are prominent on the nose. The mouth- feel is long and elegant, balancing soft tannins and fresh acidity. Cabernet Franc’s liveliness makes it an excellent food partner. Enjoy this wine with a roasted pork loin dish.
THE NUMBERS (12 400 BOTTLES PRODUCED)
TA: 5.4 g/l
RS: 1.8 g/l