IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE VINEYARDS
Chenin Blanc grapes can be used to produce many different wine styles because they readily take on different characteristics depending on where they are grown; how they are aged, and how they are used.
The varietal has always been seen as the “workhorse” of the South African wine industry, contributing acidity to bigger bulk blends. Because of this past, we are now fortunate to have older and well-established bush vines that produce naturally low yields and thus have a huge influence on grape quality.
The Seriously Cool Chenin Blanc is produced from 30-40-year-old bush vine vineyards in the Helderberg and Stellenbosch regions. The Helderberg vineyards are close to the ocean, which ensure a long growing season and allow for ripe fruit with good concentration and balanced acidity. The Stellenbosch block still gets a nice cool breeze through the vineyards but does experience slightly warmer conditions which contribute to the beautiful richness in the wine. The Helderberg soils are of sandstone origin with medium-sized stones, which help with drainage and good moisture retention, whilst the Stellenbosch component is rooted in sandy soils. Both blocks have a low production of approximately 4 t/ha.
A GENTLE HAND
The winemaking philosophy for all our premium white wines from Waterkloof is the same. We follow a traditional, minimalistic approach which means that we interfere as little as possible with the winemaking process. It allows the flavours prevalent in that specific vineyard to ultimately express themselves in the wine. To achieve this goal, all grapes are whole-bunch pressed in our modern basket press, to extract the juice in the gentlest way. The juice is then allowed to settle for 12 hours after which it is racked from the settling tank into concrete eggs and also older 600 liter barrels.
We do not inoculate the juice with commercially cultivated yeast, but allow the wild yeast prevailing in the vineyard to ferment the juice. We also do not add acid or any enzymes during the process. The natural fermentation process took approximately 3 months to complete after which we left the wine in the barrels and eggs to develop further complexity. Only a light filtration was used prior to bottling.
AND A FEW PRAYERS TO MOTHER NATURE – THE 2019/20 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
This Chenin Blanc flaunts pronounced aromas of stone fruits, lime and also shows off elegant floral notes. The wine has a full and rich mouthfeel because of the longer alcoholic fermentation that keeps the fine lees in suspension. With the combination of concrete eggs and barrels, it gives us a wine that has great structure but also a lovely freshness to it.
THE NUMBERS (9400 bottles produced)
Alc: 14 %
RS: 4 g/l
TA: 5.1 g/l