It’s Really All About The Vineyards
Chenin Blanc grapes can be used to produce many different wine styles because they readily take on different characteristics depending on where they are grown; how they are aged, and how they are used.
The varietal has always been seen as the “workhorse” of the South African wine industry, contributing acidity to bigger bulk blends. Because of this past, we are now fortunate to have older and well-established bush vines that produce naturally low yields and thus have a huge influence on grape quality.
The Seriously Cool Chenin Blanc is produced from 30-40-year-old bush vine vineyards in the Helderberg and Stellenbosch regions. The Helderberg vineyards are close to the ocean, which ensure a long growing season and allow for ripe fruit with good concentration and balanced acidity. The Stellenbosch block still gets a nice cool breeze through the vineyards but does experience slightly warmer conditions which contribute to the beautiful richness in the wine. The Helderberg soils are of sandstone origin with medium-sized stones, which help with drainage and good moisture retention, whilst the Stellenbosch component is rooted in sandy soils. Both blocks have a low production of approximately 4 t/ha.
A Gentle Hand
The winemaking philosophy for all our premium white wines from Waterkloof is the same. We follow a traditional, minimalistic approach which means that we interfere as little as possible with the winemaking process. It allows the flavours prevalent in that specific vineyard to ultimately express themselves in the wine. To achieve this goal, all grapes are whole-bunch pressed in our modern basket press, to extract the juice in the gentlest way. The juice is then allowed to settle for 12 hours after which it is racked from the settling tank into concrete eggs and also older 600 liter barrels.
We do not inoculate the juice with commercially cultivated yeast, but allow the wild yeast prevailing in the vineyard to ferment the juice. We also do not add acid or any enzymes during the process. The natural fermentation process took approximately 5 months to complete after which we left the wine in the barrels and eggs to develop further complexity. Only a light filtration was used prior to bottling.
And A Few Prayers To Mother Nature- 2017/18 Growing Season
The Cape experienced a very dry growing season from the end of the 2017 harvest and also during the beginning of 2018. The 2017 winter was not exceptionally cold but still colder than the previous three years, which helped to ensure an even budburst. The rainfall was the lowest that we have experienced in the last 10 years on the farm.
Budburst started earlier than usual seeing that the winter was not very cold. We could see some of the first buds appear early in September. From there on the vines were struggling to grow due to the dry condition and veraison only took place in early January. The best practice during dry conditions is to always have a completely weed-free vineyard to prevent excessive water usage and to limit stress on the vine by suckering if needed- sometimes this also happens naturally.
In early January we did receive rain and also a bit in early February. We believe that this was the saving grace for our vines to help them ripen the fruit more evenly. During this time, we did not see excessive heat spikes and had lovely cool evenings which helped give the vines a longer growing season, thus allowing more complex flavours to develop in the grapes.
Harvest started about 10 days later than in 2017. We saw a decrease in berry size on some blocks. Fortunately, little to no rot was found on the grapes, which helped to have a stress-free sorting table. Overall, we are more than happy with the quality of the 2018 harvest.
A Tasting Note From The Glass Of Nadia Barnard
This Chenin Blanc flaunts pronounced aromas of citrus, stone fruit especially pear and also shows off elegant floral notes. The wine has a full and rich mouthfeel because of the longer alcoholic fermentation that keeps the fine lees in suspension. With the combination of concrete eggs and barrels, it gives us a wine that has great structure but also a lovely freshness to it.
The Numbers (17,317)
Alc: 12,5 %
RS: 5 g/l
TA: 5.1 g/l