IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE VINEYARDS
Circle of Life tells the story of Waterkloof: A once conventionally farmed vineyard with great potential, that – since Paul Boutinot took over the property – has been transformed into a living, breathing organic and biodynamic vineyard by Farm Manager Christiaan Loots and his team.
At Waterkloof we strive to produce balanced, characterful wines by adhering to traditional organic and biodynamic methods. Chickens, sheep and work-horses all play their own unique role in the vineyards. Our soils are free of chemicals and are kept healthy by using plant extracts, fungi and bacteria from our own organic compost. We do not fight nature, we harness it.
Our focus has always been to get a better understanding of Waterkloof and the individual characters of its vineyard blocks. The Circumstance range allows these individual blocks and varietals to be expressed. Conversely, our objective with Circle of Life has been to produce two blends that encapsulate all the varying terroir characteristics and grape varietals found on Waterkloof. Thus, rather than being constrained by a traditional blending style, for example a Bordeaux or Rhône blend, we have instead produced two wines that are not driven by varietal, nor a specific parcel of the vineyard. Instead, they are a true reflection of the totality, philosophy and specificity of Waterkloof.
A GENTLE HAND
We mainly rely on tasting, to determine the optimum flavour development of the grapes. Bunches are picked early in the mornings, when they are still cool, which helps to preserve the flavours. Extracting juice from the grapes is achieved through whole-bunch pressing in our modern basket press. This is the most delicate way to extract the juice. No additions of enzymes or settling agents were made to the juice.
After a settling period of 24 hours, a large proportion of the juice was destined for co-fermentation. We determined a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc prior to fermentation which went into old 600 litre barrels as well as concrete eggs. Ultimately, this allowed for a better integrated and more complete end product. After a very long, natural yeast fermentation of around seven months, the wine was left on the primary lees for an extended period before bottling. This helped to add more complexity and weight to the palate. The wine was then racked to fermentation tank and the final blend was made up, with the addition of extra Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon. The wine then underwent an extended period of bottle ageing before release. We produce the wine as naturally as possible, with no additions of acids or enzymes. The final blend is 69% Chenin Blanc, 24% Sauvignon Blanc and 7% Semillon
AND A FEW PRAYERS TO MOTHER NATURE: THE 2016/17 GROWING SEASON
What looked set to be an average harvest due to the winter drought, turned out well – much to our surprise. This also attested yet again that Mother Nature will always keep us on our toes.
The 2016 Cape winter did not see a lot of rainfall – about half the average – and it was also not exceptionally cold. We barely saw any snow on the mountains.
Spring arrived early, which resulted in early bud burst and flowering. Thankfully, we did not experience strong winds during this period, which helped with an even berry set. Seeing that we had already experienced drought conditions during the berry formation stage, cell formation was also impacted to produce small cells from the start.
In January, we received some rain which changed the outlook and assisted the vines to grow without being too stressed. During the rest of the season, we had beautiful cool evenings and mild day temperatures, and this ensured a proper, even ripening process.
We started picking at the end of January and were very happy to see little to no rot, small berries with a lot of concentration, and great acids!
A TASTING NOTE FROM THE GLASS OF NADIA LANGENEGGER
This wine can be described as an intriguing wine showing lots of different layers. The Sauvignon Blanc aromas are prominent on the nose, with beautiful lime and gooseberry aromatics showing off. The Chenin adds to the complexity with hints of florals, as well as notes of white pear. Very well integrated flavours on the palate with a tight mineral core, and creamy mid-palate from the Chenin Blanc, allow for great complexity and a persistent finish. The Sauvignon Blanc lends lovely, fresh acidity to the wine.
THE NUMBERS (28 100 BOTTLES PRODUCED)
Alc: 12. 8%
RS: 2.8 g/l
TA: 5.4 g/l