IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE VINEYARDS
Waterkloof has been organic since 2007 and biodynamic since 2009, and we are now on 13 years of working towards chemical free soils. The soil is looser, full of life and just smells like seriously good dirt.
We use organic and biodynamic methods based on Old World, sustainable practices in our vineyards to ensure that the vines are nourished and in balance. We search for natural alternatives to fight everyday problems in the vineyard and we keep them healthy by using plant extracts, fungi and bacteria from our own, natural compost.
These traditional methods, combined with a southwest-facing, windy vineyard site ensure a balanced vine with a naturally low production and intense flavours. The vineyards are approximately four kilometers from the sea and are planted at a height of 270 to 300 meters above sea level. The soils are of sandstone origin with medium-sized stones, helping with drainage and moisture retention. The vineyards are 16 years old. Production was approximately 2t/ha.
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 bottle. To achieve this, all grapes are carefully hand-picked and then brought into the cellar by our horses. They are then sorted and whole- bunch pressed in our modern basket press so that we extract the juice in the gentlest way possible. The juice is then settled for 24 hours without the use of enzymes.
Only naturally present wild yeast on the grapes are used to ferment the juice. This leads to a longer fermentation process with a slow release of aromas and a more structured palate. The wine was fermented in older 600L barrels and left on the gross lees for 10 months prior to bottling. We do not add acid or enzymes during the winemaking process, with only a light filtration and a small addition of sulphur as a preservative prior to bottling. The wine was lightly filtered and bottled by hand and only three barrels were produced.
AND A FEW PRAYERS TO MOTHER NATURE: THE 2019/2020 GROWING SEASON
The current harvest is determined by the conditions of the previous years. With this taken into account, we could see that all of our hard work in 2018 certainly paid off in this year’s harvest. The leaves were still green for more than a month after picking the grapes. We welcomed a bit of rain just after the 2018 harvest, which also helped the vine to build up some much-needed reserves.
The 2018 winter was cold and the vines could go into proper dormancy. During this time, we worked hard to build up the nutrients required in the vineyard for the summer growing period . At Waterkloof we are always tweaking the processes. One example, of many, is the deep bed system, where we put plant cuttings and manure into an area that used to be aerated by chickens scratching around. This time round, the chickens were substituted by three beautiful little pigs to dig channels into the compost to turn it. This mixture was especially beneficial during the drought, as it is a rich source of carbon that improves the water retention ability of the soils.
We experienced an even budburst during a cool spring but had a lot of wind during flowering which led to uneven berry set on some of the blocks. To help the vine ripen properly, we only kept the more developed bunches on the vine.
The summer growing season was fairly cool, except for a few warmer days in October. We were also very happy to welcome some rain in January, which accompanied by the wind, led to the soil receiving good moisture without having humidity build-up on the grapes that could cause rot.
The 2019 harvest commenced the last week of January but went into full swing from the first week of February. We picked our last grapes at the end of March. On the younger blocks, the yield was down by about 10%, but the older blocks produced more or less the same.
The whites showed a lot of concentration and vibrant acidity. With the reds, we had lovely small berries with thick skins. During processing, we once again worked gently to avoid over-extracting and let Mother Nature takes her course with our natural ferments.
TASTING NOTES FROM THE GLASS OF NADIA BARNARD
This wine shows intense notes of lime, stone fruits, a nice minerality and a subtle hint of thyme on the nose. A rich, textured wine with a long lingering finish. It is the perfect match for a Thai inspired seafood dish.
Alc: 13.5 %
RS: 3.85 g/L
TA: 6.3 g/L