It’s Really All About The Vineyards
Once regarded as Cabernet Sauvignon’s lesser sidekick, Merlot is now considered its equal by many. Little is known about the origin of the varietal, but it is has been cultivated in Bordeaux since the 18th century.
The block used for our Circumstance Merlot is planted on the south-west facing slopes of the Schapenberg, at an altitude of 240 to 260 meters above sea level, and a mere 4 km from the Atlantic Ocean. Strong south-easterly winds help control growth and crop yield. Soils are of sandstone origin with medium size stones, helping with both drainage and moisture retention. Production was approximately 6 tons/ha.
At Waterkloof we pride ourselves on not spraying any chemical herbicides or pesticides in our vineyards. We produce our own compost and biodynamic preparations, which we then apply with our Percheron horses, as opposed to heavy tractors. These practices ensure loose soil with more life, where the vines can spread their roots as they please; taking up everything they need from our rich and complex earth. We believe that biodynamic farming leads to terroir-driven wines, which are truly made in the vineyard.
A Gentle Hand
We harvest according to taste and spend a lot of time in the vineyards to see how the flavours develop. Grapes were destemmed, hand sorted and placed into our open-top wooden fermenters via gravity. Natural fermentation started spontaneously by utilising the wild yeasts present on the fruit. Punch downs (twice a day) were used during fermentation to ensure a soft and slow, colour and tannin extraction. The wine spent 30 days on the skins to help integrate the tannins and stabilise the colour. The skins were separated from the juice through a gentle basket pressing. The wine went through malolactic fermentation in barrel and was then aged in new (15%), second and third fill (85%) French barrels for 18 months. We then aged the wine for another year in our wooden fermenters to ensure a wine with silky soft tannins. The wine received no fining, which allowed the grape to be purely expressed in the wine. Only sulphur was added and no other additions, such as tartaric acid or enzymes were allowed.
And A Few Prayers To Mother Nature- 2014/15 Growing Season
The Stellenbosch area experienced a good winter with sufficient rain to fill the dams and enough cold units during 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 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 fewer strong winds. Throughout the growing season, temperatures remained moderate, with intermittent hot days. Veraison started approximately 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, the evenings cooled down nicely.
The 2015 harvest was the earliest to date at Waterkloof. We started picking two 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 Tasting Note From The Glass Of Nadia Barnard
Light red berries, sour plums and some floral aromas greet and entice the nose. Elegant, bright acidity with juicy fruit on the palate. Great length with fine tannins and a balanced acidity on the finish. Pairs well with duck and lamb dishes.
The Numbers (9 936 bottles produced)
Alc: 13 %
TA: 5.4 g/l
RS: 1.3 g/l