It’s really all about the Vineyards
Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc was born on the southwest facing, low-yielding and windswept slopes of Schapenberg (overlooking False Bay). Here the blustery southeaster (and sometimes the northwest wind as well) churns up the vineyards with regularity. This not only allows for a very low yield, but the flavours intensify to a flinty minerality.
We use organic and biodynamic methods and adhere to Old World, sustainable practices in our vineyards to ensure that the vines are nourished and in balance. Our soils are free of chemicals and are kept healthy by using plant extracts, fungi and bacteria from our own organic compost.
The two single vineyard blocks are about four kilometers from the sea and are planted at a height of between 270 and 300 meters above sea level. The soils are of sandstone origin with medium sized stones, helping with drainage whilst retaining the ability to hold moisture. The vineyards are 18 years old. Production was approximately 3 tons/ha.
And a Few Prayers to Mother Nature – 2014/2015 Growing Season
The Stellenbosch area experienced a good winter with sufficient rain to fill the dams and provide enough cold units in 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 slightly 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 less strong wind than usual. Throughout the growing season, temperatures remained moderate, with intermittent hot days. Veraison started about 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, we noticed that the evenings cooled down very nicely.
The 2015 harvest was the earliest to date at Waterkloof. We started picking around 2 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 Gentle Hand
We follow a ‘less is more’, minimal intervention winemaking philosophy for all our wines and the grapes are tasted at regular intervals to determine optimal ripeness and flavour development.
We pick our grapes early in the morning when they are still cool, which helps to preserve the flavours. Extracting juice from the grape skins is achieved through gentle whole-bunch pressing. This is the most delicate way to extract the juice. After settling at a cool temperature for 24 hours, the juice is racked to the fermentation tanks. We rely only on naturally present, wild yeasts to start and complete the fermentation process.
All of the juice was fermented in old 600 liter barrels. After a very slow fermentation process of approximately 6 months and an extra 3 months on the primary lees, the wine was racked off in preparation for bottling. An extended alcoholic fermentation ensures that the juice is continuously in contact with the gross lees, adding more complexity and weight to the palate.
In keeping with our philosophy of minimum intervention, Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc was not cold or protein stabilized and only a coarse filtration was allowed before bottling. It may form tartrate crystals if left under cold conditions for a prolonged time. This has no effect on the quality or taste of our flagship wine; the wine can simply be decanted if any appear.
Tasting Notes from the Glass of Nadia Barnard
The extended primary fermentation contributed to a complex and well-integrated wine which will age well. Aromas of lime, citrus and a hint of fynbos greet the nose and the palate is layered with lots of texture and a balanced acidity, ending with a lingering minerality.
The Numbers (4176 Bottles Produced):