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Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling

As you know, it is due to Botrytis cinerea that we are able to make Noble Late Harvest Riesling at Paul Cluver. This fungal growth is initiated by rain during the ripening phase of the grapes. For the fungus to develop further, cool weather and relatively high humidity is required.

However, if the humidity stays high or if it is wet for a prolonged period, a secondary infection of Acetobacter aceti may occur resulting in ‘sour rot’ rather than ‘noble rot’. Generally there is always a measure of sour rot between the noble rot grapes. Measures are taken to limit the levels of sour rot which adds cost to the vineyard management process.

Since grapes infected with sour rot are of no use to us, the selection process during harvesting is of utmost importance. Bunch sorting is critical and the same vineyard is harvested 3 to 4 times.

In order to fufrther ensure that sour rot infected grapes do not make it to the final selection,  a berry sorting  process is undertaken at the cellar  with each of these steps making the wine making process more laborious and costly.

With a varietal like Sauvignon blanc, we anticipate a production of 7 tons/ha. This results in a final recovery of 625 to 650 litres per ton which in turn results in 5800 to 6000 bottles (750 ml) per hectare.

Our other Rieslings delivers between 6.5 and 8 tons/ha  – whereas botrytis infected Riesling only delivers 4 tons/ha.  We lose an average 2.5 - 4 tons of grapes due to the dehydration caused by the fungus each season.

In the production of Noble Late Harvest wine we only recover 300 - 350 litres per ton – again due to the dehydrated berries. Net result is the equivalent of 1600 - 1800 bottles (750 ml).

Colour in Paul Cluver Chardonnay

Colour in white wine come from a polyphenol called flavonoid  (flavus = yellow in Latin) which is found in the skin of the grape. Flavonoid levels appear to be a linked to sunlight exposure and ripeness levels. Bunches exposed to the sun tend to have higher flavonoid levels. Wines made from very ripe grapes tend to be more yellow in colour. Studies undertaken in Australia have not found a correlation between flavonoid levels and wine quality.

Of the white grape varieties, Chardonnay has particularly high levels of flavonoids and shows great increase in flavonoids when the bunches are exposed to direct sunlight.

In Elgin, due to our cool climate and less sunlight hours per day in the growing season we tend to have lower flavonoid levels in our Chardonnay.

Winemaking practices like skin contact of grapes prior to pressing, addition of press juice and oxidative winemaking style will also have an influence on the levels of flavonoids and can lead to an increase in yellow colour in wine.

At Paul Cluver, the Chardonnay is made in a more classic, elegant style. Skin contact and oxidation is kept to the minimum. Consequently the wines have less flavonoids and will present itself with a slight bright green tint rather than a yellow one like some wines from other new world wine countries.

De Trafford Chenin Blanc 2008

 

Label painting by Rita Trafford titled "Bird study with Berries".

VINEYARD BLOCKS

2 blocks ( Keerweder ) 36 year old vines on a 3 wire trellis on neighbouring cool, high altitude, SW slope. Deep red Hutton soil with good moisture retention. Unirrigated. Yield 3 tons / ha.

2 blocks ( Post House ) 22 & 24 year old vines on a 7 wire trellis with moveable foliage wires. Lower slopes of the Helderberg, 8 km from the cooling influence of the sea. Gravelly Hutton and Escourt soil. Yield 6 tons / ha. Lightly irrigated just after veraison.

1 block ( Bredell ) 24 year old bush vines. Foothills of the Helderberg 4km from False Bay. Sandy, gravelly Escourt soil. Unirrigated. Yield 7 tons / ha.

VINTAGE CONDITIONS

Typical cold, wet winter followed by a normal growing season with enough rain and warm weather to produce good, balanced growth. As in 2007, the Chenin Blanc seemed to relish the knife – edge harvest conditions with small heatwaves alternating with wet, cold spells. Unlike 2007, we had quite a bit of botrytis, especially in the later Keerweder blocks. The grapes were picked in the cool mornings @ 21.7 – 24.5º Balling.

Harvest dates: 5 / 2 / 08 – 8 / 3 / 08

PRODUCTION

Grapes lightly crushed and allowed 3 hours skin contact (a long breakfast!) before gently pressing in a traditional basket press. Sulphur added and natural settling allowed for 2 days before 100 % barrel fermentation with natural yeasts. All the wine was kept in 225l and a few 700l casks for 7 to 8 months with lees stirred 1 – 2 times a month initially. Lightly fined with bentonite – a natural clay. 20% new oak used – 80% French, 20% American. No malolactic fermentation. Bottled unfiltered on the property by hand.

Bottling date: 14 / 10 / 08. (854 x 12 x 750ml and 140 x 1.5L produced)

TASTING NOTES

An appealing pale yellow colour.

The nose is a little closed at first, evolving in the glass to show a honeyed botrytis character with baked apple, wet stones, damp hay and a hint of spicy oak. Needs a little air to bring out the inherent richness on the palate. Nicely structured with a balance between the botrytis richness and the racy minerality. A long clean finish. Probably best between 2010 and 2015.

Extremely versatile food wine – excellent with rich fish dishes, sushi and other seafood as well as most subtle white meats or simply on its own.

ANALYSIS

ALC. 14.56% SUGAR 2.1 TA 6.4 pH 3.5 VA 0.50 SO2 30free & 92total

De Trafford Cabernet Sauvignon 2007  (The Fine Print !)

 

VINEYARD BLOCKS

1st block 13 year old vines on 7 wire vertical trellis. Mix of 6 different clones on 101-14 rootstock. Mont Fleur vineyard. – high altitude mountain slope. Soil deep red Hutton decomposed granite. Yield 3 tons / ha. (18h?/ha)

2nd block 10 year old vines on 5 wire vertical trellis. Clone CS20C on 101.14 rootstock. Neighbouring east facing Keermont vineyard. Soil deep red Hutton decomposed granite. Yield 3 tons / ha. (18h?/ha)

3rd block 19 year old vines on 4 wire vertical trellis. Clone CS46A on 101-14 rootstock. Soil shallow gravelly red Hutton decomposed granite. On low lying Helderberg mountain site. Yield 3 tons / ha. (18h?/ha)

4th block 4 year old vines on 7 wire vertical trellis. Clone CS169 on 101-14 rootstock. Neighbouring north facing Keermont vineyard. Soil deep red Hutton decomposed granite. Yield 2 ton/ha (12h?/ha)

7% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot incl.

These yields equate to less than 1kg of fruit per vine, arguably the threshold for the production of GREAT wine!

VINTAGE CONDITIONS

Typical cold, wet winter followed by a normal growing season with enough rain and warm weather to produce good, balanced growth. The knife-edge harvest conditions with small heat waves alternating with short, wet, cold spells seemed to bring out a nutty character in the Cab.S. and accentuate the natural structure of the wine in quite an elegant way.

Harvest date: 22 / 2 / 07 – 16 / 3 / 07 @ 24.3 – 25.5° B.

PRODUCTION

100% destemming and crushing by hand directly into 2 ton open top fermentation tanks. Spontaneous natural yeast fermentation @ 30ºC with the cap of skins punched down 2 – 4 times a day for 12 to 14 days. Wine drained directly to barrels together with single pressing from traditional basket press.

All our wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in the barrel. 40% new French oak was used from high quality coopers. Time in barrels 22 months with several rackings to gradually clarify the wine and assist maturation. This wine was bottled unfiltered by hand on the property.

Bottling date: 21 / 01 / 09 Production: 720 x 12 x 750m?; 12 x 3?.

TASTING NOTES

Attractive deep red colour. Intense fruitcake, complex berries and black olives. A distinct nutty character evolves and is complimented by pencil shavings and cedar from the fine French oak. Still tight, restrained and rather linear on the palate. Needs time to unfold and show itself.

Decant with air and enjoy with a thick chunk of beef on the braai. Best between 2012 and 2020.

ANALYSIS

Alc. 15.19% SG. 2.2 TA 5.7 pH 3.82 VA 0.57 SO2 9free 37total

The Winery of Good Hope Swartland Vines

"At The Winery of Good Hope, we have been analyzing and experimenting in various alternative sites around the Cape, across an array of cool climate areas, high altitude locations and warmer though coastal spots -using numerous grape varieties, styles and techniques. From the Southern tip of Africa at Cape Aghulus, over the Mountains to the altitudes of Elgin, heading westwards all the way along to the Atlantic-facing summits of the Darling Hills. But the most exciting results we have unearthed are from the totally unassuming though inspiring Perdeberg Mountain, in the Swartland. We believe that this West Coast site is the best kept viticultural secret in South Africa.

THE VINEYARDS AND THE LOGIC

In an area where annual rainfall is a third lower than in Stellenbosch, where the mean mid-Summer (February) temperature is 4 degrees higher than in Stellenbosch and where altitudes are generally 200m lower, the pervading mentality has always been that the Swartland is wheat and table grape country- and certainly not premium wine country. This bias is beginning to be seriously challenged.

Red Grapes go into 600L Barrel for Fermentation


The Perdeberg Mountain dominates the sprawling wheat and cereal planes of the Swartland. It is a lone and imposing outcrop of decomposed granite slopes and peaks, a very distant summit from the silhouette of Table Mountain, visible directly to its South. The West and South-West facing slopes of the Perdeberg have , in this otherwise parched and rugged, rocky environment, some modifying influences, facing directly as they do the cold Atlantic Ocean –which is chilled by the Benguela current, flowing immediately up from the South Pole. With the combination of the maritime breezes, the higher altitude, the granitic sub-soils and the favourable exposures, the Perdeberg Mountain possesses potentially, in fact, some of the most ideal conditions in the Cape to produce world class wines –of certain varieties. This fact is now borne-out by the emergence from the Perdeberg of the Cape’s first iconic wine, and its most sought-after and expensive one : Columella - from the Sadie Family. Indeed it was Eben Sadie and Willie & Tanja De Waal (from Scali) who introduced us to the potential of the Pederberg, some years ago. They converted us from our ignorance and prejudice that the Swartland was a low potential region, to believing fully in its outstanding potential and thus to invest considerable resources in this area.

We spent three years researching the various Terroirs and vineyards until we found what we believe to be one of the greatest spots of them all, in Aprilskloof. Not only did we uncover the ideal partners there (thanks again to Eben Sadie), possessing established vineyards in the particular locations and micro-climates we had identified as being our prefernce, but we also found ourselves with a far more diverse selection of ideal varieties to work with than we had imagined possible. The mineral soils and the climatic idiosyncrasies create a simply idyllic environment for varieties such as Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Shiraz, Viognier, Chenin as well as a few quirky others…

And thus we kicked-off in the 2004 vintage with the benefit of impeccable, established vineyards and with fruit of a quality and intensity of flavours that blew us away.

In year one, we selected 10 specific vineyards, 6 for our white blend, 4 for the red. Many of these are bush vines and mostly dryland (i.e, no irrigation). The yields, consequently, are very limited –indeed in 2004, the whites averaged about 25 hl / hectare (by comparison, Grand Cru Burgundy can produce +/-40 hl / ha), whilst the reds averaged 32.5 hl / ha. In 2005, a hot vintage, yields were lower still, averaging-out at about 20 hl / ha across red & white. In the subsequent vintages we’ve understood the pattern of yields versus climatic condition and remain astounded by the quality of fruit and the completely individual flavours we manage to extract from this incredible location. Today, we’re producing from about 20 hectares of vines on the Perdeberg and will grow that gently, if we find the right -preferably old- vines in this site to work with. Production will always be very limited; quality is really all we’re interested in.

THE HUMAN INGREDIENT

Barrels ready to receive new wine at Winery of Good Hope

Our belief in this area was stimulated by some of the most passionate wine folk in South Africa, as described above. That endorsement, subsequently fuelled by Alex Dale’s own conversion, dove-tailed so naturally with his own affinities, both taste and experience-wise. Having spent many years educating himself on the wines and the terroirs of the Swartland, Alex was convinced he’d seen a light that would change our entire outlook on the Cape. He also realised that he had the perfect team with which to get stuck in.

Northern Rhone-based Edouard Labeye has to be one of the most broadly experienced individuals in the world with Rhone and Languedoc varieties – working as he does as a vigneron and producer in St. Joseph & Condrieu, whilst at the same time being oenologist and advisor to so many top Estates in both the Rhone valley and across the Languedoc. Coupled with Edouard’s fifteen vintages in South Africa and his understanding and feeling for the wines and the potential of the Cape, Alex’s discovery of the Perdeberg made Edouard smile from ear to ear. Home away from home…! was his immediate reaction. Indeed, the great success of the wines, from of our very first vintage, owes as much to the outstanding fruit as they do to Edouard’s and Alex’s interpretation of it.

Backed by the rest of the Radford Dale team, the Black Rock project was initiated in with a real sense of adventure and excitement. The first wines to be released, from the 2004 vintage, experienced tremendous success and we have been working hard to build on that with each vintage. Working with some tough old varieties like Carignan and Grenache has convinced us of the versatility and outstanding potential of some of the lesser-known areas in the Cape. Just by walking off the beaten path, we have opened-up a huge new horizon for our wines. Which goes to show how much mentality limits us or sets us free.

The human ingredient is always a pivotal factor –although the more you know, the more you realise that nature is the driving force. Perhaps mankind has put himself ahead of nature for too long, evidence of which we see increasingly around the planet. Having discovered the enigmatic terroir of the Perdeberg and having recognised its untamable spirit, we’re content to take a back seat and to allow the character of the wines to guide us."

About Kinnegar

Kinnegar Wines was born almost by accident and been growing organically since.

In 1998, I was in the midde of a two year diploma course with the London Wine & Spirits Trust when an opportunity came up to visit South Africa's Western Cape. Naturally, I was keen to avail of the opportunity to learn more about viticulture and winemaking in South Africa.

We had an excellent guide who brought us to a number of the Cape's leading estates including Thelema and De Trafford where we had in depth vineyard and cellars tours. At the end of the day, I wanted to take back some of the wonderful wines we had tasted for our own use. It was not possible to take two or three cases of wine with us on our flight and shipping such a small quantity was more than the cost of wines. So I had the mad idea of shipping a pallet! Clearly, I had to start selling these wines and so began Kinnegar Wines. Ashford Castle took many of the wines and continue to list them and newer arrivals ever since.

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