Winter 2017 was one to forget. Average rainfall in Tulbagh is 500mm, but we only had 180mm. This is the time when we pump water from the rivers for summer irrigation. Our dams were less than half full. We were extremely worried and immediately put in place our own strict water restrictions for the people, cellar and the vineyards.
Budburst happened two weeks later than the previous year. Due to the very cold winter, the cold units needed when the vines are dormant led to an even budburst. Pinotage started on 12thSeptember and Chenin Blanc was seven days later. Strong dry winds during the growing season kept the vineyards free of any disease and we hardly had to spray any fungicides.
Due to the drought, in most blocks we decided to drop half the bunches to allow for even ripening and to achieve the required sugar levels. Thank heavens – many farms who did not do this could not get enough sugar. This year we did not remove too many leaves.
Harvest started on the 24th of January – 2 weeks later than last year – with much excitement and anticipation. Pinotage, as usual, was first to the cellar. Chenin Blanc did not wait for Pinotage to finish – which usually happens – and they bottlenecked around the 14th of February.
We finished harvest with our Shiraz on the 28th of February.
The crop was down 25% due to small berry size. Recovery of litres per ton was also down.
2018 will be remembered for its even ripening with great colouring and the forming of smooth tannins and exceptional fruit. A shorter harvest than usual, where the Chenin Blanc shows lots of complexity and fruit, while the reds have great depth, expression of cultivar and are multi-layered which will make these wines extraordinary food companions.
Every year we try and improve our quality by experimenting with different techniques in the cellar with small batches.
This year we have produced our first separate Chenin Blanc and Pinotage bubbly.
And whole bunch fermentation with our Pinotage.
Tiger, Dimitri, Maryna and Pierre with their 2018 Harvest T-shirts