It’s Really All About the Vineyard
At Waterkloof, we use organic as well as regenerative farming methods to ensure that the vines are nourished and in balance. When driving into the farm you are able to see the cows, goats and horses which we use for their manure as well as weed control, ploughing and many other purposes. Our soils are free of chemicals and are kept healthy by using plant extracts, fungi and bacteria from our own, natural compost. Healthier soils mean vines with roots digging deeper than 5 meters, truly expressing the terroir.
These traditional methods, combined with a southwest-facing, windy vineyard site ensure a balanced and naturally low yielding vine that produces intense flavours. The vineyards are about 5 kilometers from the sea and are planted at a height of between 270 and 300 meters above sea level. The soils are of sandstone origin with medium-sized stones, helping with drainage and also with moisture retention. The vineyards are an average age of 22 years.
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. As we don’t spray any chemicals in our vineyard, wild yeast is employed to ferment the juice in old 600litre barrels. This leads to a longer fermentation process 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 a further 2 months. 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- 2021/2022 Growing Season
A cool season with moderate weather conditions during the 2022 harvest. This gave the vine the opportunity to reach full phenolic ripeness and develop complex flavours.
The current harvest quality is dependent on the previous Winter conditions. The 2021 Winter started early and saw proper leaf fall during the month of May. The rest of the Winter was ideal and cold but we still did not have enough rain on the farm.
On the Waterkloof farm we decide to focus on a minimum tilling approach to try and build up the natural carbon percentage in the soil. Christiaan, our farm manager, started putting chipped plant cuttings down in between the vines going 30 to 40 cm high. Over this he would spray earth worm teas which will break the plant material down into a carbon source.
The legume and wild oats cover crop will only be rolled flat- only cleaning in between the vines with the aim of preserving the carbon in the soil and increasing the water holding capacity.
Due to a cold Spring budding was delayed by 2 weeks on average. Once flowering started the vine caught up and was only about 5 days later than the average year.
Luckily during flowering, we did not see strong winds and had an even berry set in the area. From December on the vine’s growth was accelerated by the warmer growing conditions. We had a few heat peaks in December and in January.
As far as I remember this was one of the longest harvests! We started getting into full swing from around the second week of February and received our last grapes in on the 23rd of March. The quality looks good- we saw little rot and reached proper phenolic ripeness at lower sugar levels leading to fresher wines with slightly lower alcohols.
A Tasting Note from The Glass of Nadia Langenegger
Sauvignon Blanc is very versatile and also shows distinct terroir characteristics. In this wine, the Schapenberg comes through, showing freshness mineral tones accompanied by gooseberries and lime notes. The palate is elegant, refined and lingers well on the aftertaste. I enjoy this wine on its own and it also pairs perfectly with crayfish on the grill- drizzled with butter and lime.
The Numbers (51 000 bottles produced)
Alc: 13.5 %
RS: 2.9 g/l
TA: 5.85 g/l