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 4 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 2020/21 GROWING SEASON
The 2020 Winter started late but can be described as a cold and wet season. We received over 500 mm of rain during this time. The days heated up slightly but the evenings were freezing with a few frosty mornings. The vines were able to go into a good dormancy period.
We welcomed a warm Spring time and Summer without excessively high temperatures. The famously ferocious winds at Waterkloof played their part bringing down the yields but also lowering the disease pressure.
The remainder of the growing season was ideal, with enough sunlight and not too much rain – which could lead to mildew. We could see that the soils were still retaining the moisture- which is of course also ideal. Verasion only started much later than usual, giving us the first indication of a possibly later picking season.
Our 2021 harvest slowly started around the 8th of February and reached full intensity from the 12th of February. The harvest conditions were positive with enough sun, not too much rain and few very hot days. The whites came in over a period of about 3 weeks, with the reds following immediately after. 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, unfortunately for us the yields were down a lot on the reds and very similar on the whites compared to 2020. This was a high-quality vintage, therefore I would recommend that you keep some 2021 wines to age. The ageing potential is great because of the naturally higher acid levels, but also a lovely drink now as the tannins are very elegant and well matured.
A TASTING NOTE FROM THE GLASS OF NADIA LANGENEGGER
This Chenin Blanc flaunts pronounced aromas of stone fruits such as pear and nectarines. I also pick up subtle notes of honey and gooseberries on the nose. 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 (20,834 bottles produced)
Alc: 14 %
RS: 4.8 g/l
TA: 6.2 g/l