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, which makes 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 the soil by utilising our work-horses as opposed to heavy 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. The result is honest, 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 12 years old. Production was approximately – 3 tons/ha. In other words, packed full of flavour!
A GENTLE HAND
We harvest according to taste and 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. We are always trying ‘new’ or shall we say… old, traditional approaches, that is why we work with whole-bunches that are hand-sorted so that only the best berries are then placed into the fermenters via our winery’s gravity-flow system. The alcoholic fermentation started spontaneously with the natural yeasts found in our chemical-free vineyards.
Punch downs during the fermentation process took place twice a day. First by feet and then at the end of fermentation, with a soft machine punch-down 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 about 15 % new oak and the rest in 2nd and 3rd fill French barrels and was then aged for 20 months. We make the wine as naturally and untamed as possible, with no additions of acids or enzymes.
AND A FEW PRAYERS TO MOTHER NATURE: THE 2015/2016 GROWING SEASON
The Cape did not experience a very cold winter in 2015, with near perfect days lingering at 20°C. The evenings were cold but not excessively so. We also experienced the driest winter to date with half the normal rainfall.
Budburst took place at the beginning of September, which was definitely earlier than usual. It was a proper spring with lots of sun and warm temperatures.
We started picking a week earlier than last year (which was already early). A lot of the producers were significantly down on crop yield (some even up to 50%). Fortunately, our biodynamic vines have a deep root system (approximately six metres deep), compared to conventional vineyards (digging only one meter deep) and we were not down on yield by too much.
With the berries being very small this year, the flavours were fantastic. Some raisins still developed on the later varietals, which we got rid of in the cellar. The skins on the reds were thicker than normal but brimming with concentration.
A TASTING NOTE FROM THE GLASS OF NADIA BARNARD
Lovely earthy notes with red fruit nuances and green spices that are prominent on the nose. The mouthfeel is round but 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 (8750 BOTTLES PRODUCED)
TA: 5.1 g/l
RS: 2.4 g/l