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Harvest report: February 9, 2018

Due to the warm weather, the week began with Sauvignon Blanc that we decided to pick a little earlier than usual to maintain the flavour intensity. Our favourite block was picked in the cool, early hours of the morning and then chilled in lug boxes overnight to maximise the flavours. The Sauvignon Blanc yield was much smaller than last year, ranging from 6% to 49% less, which is obviously a huge loss. The one block of Sauvignon Blanc only yielded 3.5 tons per hectare!

The last of the Pinot Noir came in from the cooler regions of Elgin and Darling, demonstrating again the benefits of these cooler areas in the Kaapse Vonkel cuvée. The natural acidity was well preserved and the aromas are excitingly intense. Chardonnay for Cap Classique also finished on Thursday –  to everyone’s relief.  The pressing of whole bunches for Kaapse Vonkel and Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs is a very intense stage of the harvest and takes a lot of detailed attention, but if you do it well you are rewarded with excellent base wines.

The Pinotages ripened in full force and the sugar levels increased at a rate of knots due to the warm weather. This caught us by surprise. The extremely low crop in the Redhill vineyard definitely played a role in the sudden jump in ripeness, however at inspection of the fermenting wine, it shows big colour and excellent concentration of fruit. We were amazed at how fresh and vigorous the vines looked, despite getting very little of its normal water. A vine is not called ‘The Mediterranean Weed” for nothing!

The week ended with superb quality Chardonnay coming in at 23 to 24 °Balling with high natural acidity and lovely tropical fruit flavours. Chardonnay can make very ripe flavourful white wines in a warmer season. The trend of lower yield also affected the Chardonnay with the quantity down up to 20% on last year.

The week ended with a little bit of rain on Friday. Despite our optimism and the weather forecast of good rain it fizzled out and eventually only 5 – 8 mm was measured. It will not bring significant relief, but it helps to cool everything down. It dried off too quickly to cause grey rot, which is always a risk during a wet period.

Johan Malan – Cellarmaster