IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE VINEYARDS
Cinsault vines have been grown for centuries in Southern France. In the Rhône and Languedoc regions it is primarily used as a supporting agent in red blends, especially Châteauneuf-du- Pape, to add spice and aromatics, whilst mellowing out harsh tannins.
But, perhaps its most important role in wine history took place in South Africa, where in 1925 it was crossed with Pinot Noir by Stellenbosch University Professor A.I. Perold in an attempt to create a unique South African varietal. Today this proudly South African varietal is known as Pinotage.
Historically in South Africa, Cinsault was used to soften the tannins on red blends and also to increase yields in easy-drinking table wines. For this reason, we are blessed with fantastic older Cinsault vines in the Cape.
Seriously Cool Cinsault is produced from over 30-35 year old bush vines on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. Older vines are known to have reached optimal balance in growth and production through time. This allows for low yields and ripe fruit with intense flavours. The soils are of sandstone (with medium-sized stones) origin, as well as sandy, helping with drainage and moisture retention. Production was approximately 4t/ha.
A GENTLE HAND
Picking dates are determined by tasting in the vineyard – working our way back from knowing what type of wine we would like to make, and then looking for those required flavours in the grapes.
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 goal the whole bunches are carefully sorted and, via gravity, placed in our wooden fermenters.
Alcoholic fermentation starts spontaneously inside the berry from the naturally occurring yeast. After approximately 3 days of this intracellular fermentation, the grapes are punched down by foot, twice daily, to ensure that the berries are broken slowly and softly, and not over extracted.
The wine is kept on the skins for a minimum of 21 days, dependant on taste. ‘Powered’ through gravity alone, the wine runs down to a tank below. The remaining berries fall into the basket press, where they are gently pressed. The soft pressing and the free-run are then placed together in second and third fill 600L French oak barrels to finish malolactic fermentation, and the wine is then aged for about 12 months.
This wine expresses the grapes in their purest form and no fining agents were added. Only sulphur was added and no other additions, such as tartaric acid or enzymes were allowed.
AND A FEW PRAYERS TO MOTHER NATURE – 2021/22 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
Our Cinsault is known as COOL because we recommend that you enjoy it at a lower temperature (around 14°C) and because it stems from the cooler slopes. We also describe it as SERIOUS because it ensures a well-structured, memorable length in the mouth.
The old bush vines gave rise to a soft, vibrant and yet structured wine. It is playful in its aromas with loads of light red berries, pronounced florals and slight earthy notes. In the mouth, the prominent fruit aromatics are complemented by soft tannins with great length.
This wine can be enjoyed on its own, but also pairs well with a variety of dishes, especially duck or a pork-belly inspired dish.
THE NUMBERS (10196 BOTTLES PRODUCED)
Alc: 13 %
TA: 4.1 g/l