For a country as blessed as South Africa is with fantastic terroirs capable of growing a huge range of exceptional grapes, you would think that the wine world would be more aware of it, and its hidden gems. Fortunately, the fall of the Apartheid government has led to greater acceptance of South Africa in the world. It's beauty, and diversity are gaining world attention. The world of wine is no exception, with it's unique grape, Pinotage, raising eyebrows and getting tongues wagging, as it makes headway in the challenging world of wine marketing.
A cross between Cinsault and Pinot Noir, it is unique to me in that you can actually taste the "pinot" side of it. To me, it is like a pinot noir on steroids. While warm contry pinot noir is often unlike its Burgundy forefathers, Pinotage seems like a Burgundy Pinot Noir on steroids. Big, bold and rich, with excellent notes of plums, blackberry, and licorice, spicy and earthy notes, all common, though more muted in Burgundy, shine brightly. Because of its bold strokes, it is delicious on its own, or as part of a thoughtfully designed blend, where its flourishes can compliment the jaminess and sweeter notes of a syrah, the floral and red berry notes of grenache noir, even the bold dark notes of a great Cab Sauv.
Give yourself a winemaking challenge this year..veer off the beaten path a little, and explore the uniqueness of a great South African grape on its own, or as part of your masterpiece blend!
For many years now, New Zealand held the mantle for Sauvignon blanc distinction, and many wineries, and even wine drinkers and winemakers tried to emulate that style. Great to do, but also a bit of a shame that other great Sauvignon Blanc styles seemed to loose their sheen a little.
The Sauvingnon Blanc from South Africa gives us a great opportunity to rectify that. Of course, terroir plays a big role in wht the characterisitcs of the grapes might be, but a carful hand will allow you to shape your Sauvignon in many ways. One way is becoming a house favorit of mine, making a fumé style.
With the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, I added about a half gram of tartaric acid per liter, and treated it like a typical sauv blanc, targeting bright flavors, crispness, and the more typical aromatics.
As an experiment, I ran some as well with no acid adjustment, using d47 yeast, and fermenting with a touch of oak, and voila...a fumeé blanc!
Very food friendly, and palate pleasing to a broad diversity of tastes. The moral of the story is..don't limit yourself to only one vision of wine, great wineries and winemakers that start with great raw materials have the greatest opportunity to stretch out, and make seveal different, and delcious wines from the same grape!
I must say I ha e been pretty negligent about updating our blog with information you might want, and I promise to be more regular in posting!
Spain 2019 provided an excellent harvest, all varietals showing true character, flavor and body. So that is pretty exciting on its own, but for me, the coolest part of the harvest was haveing 3 friends fly over and join me in the vineyard, working on harvesting merlot. We carefully marked the containers with grapes they harvested, and when we unloaded them, brough them in to our facility to began making wines with them. Since October, we have been collectively making the wine, and Friday, March 5, we will be doing a tasting, comparing 2 different oak profiles, before making a final call. If you want to follow that adventure, search #100bottlesofmerlot on instagram.
A better grape could not have been chosen for this project, 25 brix, ph 3.71, a fantastic place to start making world class wine, as we relentlessly pursue the perfect wine cellar!
2017 looks to be another blockbuster year! On the heels of the exceptional vintage in 2016, mother Nature has again cooperated. Warm days, cool nights, limited yields drip irrigation and the watchful eyes of the winery owner were apaprent during the harvest. the vines looked very healthy, teh grapes tasted great, ripe seeds without harsh tannins, lots of flavor and aroma in teh skins and juice bode well for winemakers again this year.
another harvest begins... An early start to another exceptional harvest begins, and I will arrive September 9 with grape shears in hand to begin harvesting our next season of grapes! Last June, I visited our vineyards, check out how the merlot look
...but well worth the effort. This year's grapes are exceptional! I think my favorite is the tempranillo, mine weighed in at 24.5 brix, I did a small acid adjustent, and it rocks! Big bold tannins, lots of dark berries and blueberry on the nose! We still have tempranillo, syrah, merlot and a bit of carignan. When you taste this carignan, you will know what it should be- rich dark, earthy and berry perfume...not the typical carignan from California to say the least!
Well, the only thing better than a fantastic harvest is getting the grapes! Every year, I bet on which will be the best grape from a group of fantastic options, and this year, so far my bet is on the tempranillo, after having tasted all varieties in the vineyard, and crushpad. When the grapae arrived, i too the opportunity again to taste the various pails of must that I thawed for my first winemaking run of the season, and yet again, my bet is on the tempranillo.
Of course, I am a big rosé fan, and I did manage to press 10 pails of grenache noir as soon as it was thawed, and have enough fantastic juice to make some great rosé. Check out the amazing color!
I am running with the natural yeasts, which are doing a fantatic job of fermenting. As of today, the gravity is 1.014, and the aromas are heavenly! At pressing, we had 26 brix, and a ph of 3.60, I dropped in acidualted water to bring my brix down to 24 ( a 14% rosé should be strong enough...) and adjusted the ph to 3.5.
Racking in a few days!
Two weeks spent harvesting fantastic grapes, and the containers are now in port waiting to get shipped to us. Since 2012, my personal favorite has been the merlot, but this year, harvesting tempranillo, and eating a few berries, of course, well, they tasted amazing. Bold tannins, sugars to give us 14 plus percent alcohol, and just amazing flavors. Now, the syrah fans out there will tell you it is always the best, as will the grenache noir and carignan fans. With excellently grown grapes, it really does come down to a question of preference, but really, wouldn't you want to make wine from these tempranillo grapes? I know all grapes will make fantastic wine this year, check out the double rainbow that arched over the town and its vineyards during the harvest!