Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2020
Elegant and complex. Limey fruit with perfect oak balance and a mineral finish on the palate. Drink now or cellar for 10 years to taste its real potential.
The grapes came from 3 blocks in Stellenbosch and a single block in Robertson. All the Stellenbosch blocks are dryland whilst Robertson only received one small drip irrigation. Careful canopy management was needed to ensure enough growth to ripen bunches. The canopy was tipped early in the season to initiate side shoot growth to protect the bunches against sun burn. The grape were handpicked early in the morning.
After four consecutive dry winter seasons (2015-2018) the excellent rainfall in 2019 did manage to offer some relief. The effect of additional water could be seen immediately in the vineyards and we had a particularly good growing season. The crop returned to an almost normal level, and the good growing conditions and vine health set the scene and created expectations for an outstanding harvest. The better rainfall over the winter period compared to the preceding seasons had a very positive influence on the harvest but on the downside we had rather moderate winter temperatures which did lead to some uneven bud-break in the early season, and a much earlier start to the growing season than normal. The moderate winter was fortunately followed by a relative cool spring which allowed the growing pattern to even out a bit even though the growing season remained earlier than normal. Due to the good growing conditions the vines grew a bit more vigorously which meant our viticulture team really had to pay careful attention to the canopy management practices making sure the fruit stays healthy and ensure good even ripening. The harvest itself started early which was expected but it was also a quite compressed harvest that saw several red varieties, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, ripening much earlier than normal. The first part of the harvest was relatively cool and ideal for harvesting the white cultivars at optimal ripeness yet retaining fresh acidity, but the latter half of the growing season was reasonably warm with only a few heat spikes and no major heat waves. This coupled with a few light rainfall events allowed for good even ripening albeit a little earlier than anticipated. We are very happy with the natural balance and healthy acidities we saw in the grapes this year.
The grapes were harvested between 22 - 24° balling and after crushing the juice was given extended skin contact for at least 12 hours before it was pressed. Only the free run portion of the juice was used for this selection. After 1 day of settling the juice was racked to a fermentation vessel where we inoculate with a slow fermenting yeast strain. The juice was racked into barrel 1 day after inoculation and left to ferment at low temperature until dry. The wine spent a total of 8 months in barrel before blending and bottling. A combination of 60% new and the rest second and third fill 400l French oak barrels were used.
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