It’s Really All About the Vineyard
Chardonnay is one of the world’s most widely planted varietals and can be very diverse in style. Known as the white wine of Burgundy from where it originated. If we think of the wide spectrum of Chardonnays stemming from the renowned vineyard sites of Burgundy, ranging from very mineral to a riper style, it is evident that the varietal shows terroir exceptionally well.
As winemakers started to experiment with the varietal over the years, they noticed that when grown in warmer climates the grape showed more tropical notes, whilst those rooted in cooler areas showed fresh flavours of apple and more earthy notes.
The Circumstance Chardonnay block leans more towards the cooler climate style,
as it is planted a mere 8kms from the ocean. The block is approximately 15 years in age and planted on sandstone soils on a south-facing slope.
A Gentle Hand
The winemaking philosophy is the same for all of Waterkloof’s premium white wines. We follow a traditional, minimalistic approach which means that we interfere as little as possible with the winemaking process. This allows the flavours prevalent in that specific vineyard to be expressed in the wine. To achieve this, all grapes are harvested on taste, picked by hand, sorted by hand and finally whole-bunch pressed in our modern basket press, so that we extract the purest juice in the gentlest way. The juice is then settled naturally for 24 hours. From there we simply rack the juice to a concrete egg an older 600L barrel as well as two new barrels. We then simply wait for the fermentation process to start naturally- without the addition of any yeast. This leads to a longer fermentation with a slow release of aromas and a more structured palate. The natural fermentation process took 6 months to complete, after which the wine was left on the gross less for another 3 months. The wine partially underwent malolactic fermentation. We do not add any acid or enzymes during the winemaking process, with only a light filtration and a small addition of sulphur added as a preservative prior to bottling.
And A Few Prayers To Mother Nature- 2019/2020 Growing Season
For the past 4 years, the Western Cape has been experiencing a severe drought. During winter of 2019, we did welcome more rain than in the previous two years and were very blessed to receive over 500mm.
Budburst and flowering were earlier than usual, starting with the first buds at the beginning of September. Towards the end of the flowering season there was some rain, but fruit set was luckily still even.
The remainder of the growing season was ideal, with enough sunlight and not too much rain – which could lead to mildew. At the end of January, the south easterly wind did howl through the property, which led to a lot of leaf loss and even that of some grape bunches. Not much could be done to mitigate this, except to spend more time in the vineyards and divide the blocks into different sectors in preparation for harvest. We first removed fruit in risk of sunburn and monitored each block very closely.
Our 2020 harvest commenced on the 29th of January and reached full intensity from the 5th of February. The harvest conditions were positive with enough sun, not too much rain and only a few very hot days. The whites came in over a period of about 2 weeks, with the reds following immediately after – this made harvest logistics a little easier. All harvest dates were determined by taste in the vineyard, waiting to achieve the ideal balance between phenolic ripeness, potential alcohol and acid. In terms of yield, there was some variation but overall, we saw an increase of approximately 10% on 2019.
A Tasting Note from The Glass Of Nadia Langenegger
A wine that flaunts its cooler climate origin with flavours of honey, stone fruits citrus and interesting flinty notes on the nose. The palate has lovely complexity, is refined and lingers well on the aftertaste. I enjoy this wine with a variety of food partners, ranging from a wedge of Waterkloof’s noble Healey’s slow matured cheddar to mushroom risotto.
The Numbers (4020 bottles produced)
Alc: 13 %
RS: 4 g/l
TA: 5.4 g/l