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. 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. Production was approximately 3 tons/ha. In other words, packed full of flavour!
At Waterkloof, we do not spray herbicides, fungicides or pesticides in our vineyards. We produce our own compost and biodynamic preparations, which we then disperse into the soil by utilising our 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 unique vineyard site.
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, after beginning to work with whole-bunches for our Rhone varietals in 2009, we now do the same with Cabernet Franc. Bunches are hand-sorted so that only the best grapes are then placed into wooden 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 punch-down machine to ensure a moderate extraction of colour and tannin. The wine spent a total of around 30 days on the skins to help integrate the tannins. 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 11 % new oak and the rest in 2nd and 3rd fill French barrels and was then aged for 32 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 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
Distinctive Cabernet Franc with earthy notes, 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 elegance and liveliness make it an excellent food partner. I would recommend enjoying this with a traditional lamb curry.
THE NUMBERS (6300 Bottles Produced)
TA: 5.4 g/l
RS: 2 g/l