IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE VINEYARDS
Despite its name “little green” Petit Verdot is definitely not a grape variety that should be overlooked. This grape is traditionally reserved as a minor blending component in the world-famous Bordeaux region, where it originates. Since then it has been planted in warmer regions such as Australia, California as well as Spain and marketed as a single varietal.
This thick-skinned grape has the ability to make a very interesting wine if planted in the right site where it sees a bit more sun and on soils that are rich in minerals.
Our Petit Verdot vines were planted in 2008 on the slopes of the Schapenberg on a combination of decomposed granite and sandstone soil.
Petit Verdot works excellently as part of a blend, such as our Circle of Life Red, but after giving the block time to come into its own we decided to also let it take on the lead as part of the single varietal Circumstance range.
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 into small picking crates, cooled overnight and then processed the following morning. Bunches are hand-sorted, de-stemmed and sorted again 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 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 2017/18 GROWING SEASON
The Cape experienced a very dry growing season from the end of the 2017 harvest and also during the beginning of 2018. The 2017 winter was not exceptionally cold but still colder than the previous three years, which helped to ensure an even budburst. The rainfall was the lowest that we have experienced in the last 10 years on the farm.
Budburst started earlier than usual seeing that the winter was not very cold. We could see some of the first buds appear early in September. From there on the vines were struggling to grow due to the dry conditions and veraison only took place in early January. The dam levels were also low and we were only able to irrigate the younger blocks. The best practice during dry conditions is to always have a complete weed-free vineyard to prevent excessive water usage and to limit stress on the vine by suckering if needed- sometimes this also happens naturally.
In early January we did receive rain and also a bit in early February. We believe that this was the saving grace for our vines to help them ripen the fruit more evenly. During this time, we did not see excessive heat spikes and had lovely cool evenings which helped to have a longer growing season and have all the flavours develop over a longer period.
Harvest started about 10 days later than in 2017. We saw a decrease in berry size on some blocks. Fortunately, little to no rot was found on the grapes, which helped to have a stress-free sorting table. Overall, we are more than happy with the quality of the 2018 harvest.
A TASTING NOTE FROM THE GLASS OF NADIA LANGENEGGER
Black cherry, plum and hints of sage are flavours that I pick up on the nose. Petit Verdot has tiny berries which yield a wine with firm tannins and fresh acidity.
Rich meat such as lamb will work well with this wine.
THE NUMBERS (3550 Bottles Produced)
TA: 5.1 g/l
RS: 1.7 g/l