A comparatively cool and wet winter in 2006 was ideal to ensure vine dormancy, timeous budding and equal ripening across the vineyards. Our vineyard manager Roelie Joubert adapted his pruning principles accordingly, and we saw the first flourish of healthy shoots on time in early September, as usual.
The dry spring and summer meant quite slow canopy growth, but on the upside we had no disease. Bearing in mind the cold winter, we were prepared to drop crop from mid-veraison to ensure proper even ripening across all the varieties.
Crop control started in earnest in mid December. All the mature vineyards were cut back to 2 bunches per shoot starting at 50 % veraison, the younger vineyards were immediately reduced to a single bunch per shoot to take the pressure off the shallow root systems and allow complete ripening.
Starting with a normal crop of about 8 tons per hectare, we systematically went through and dropped bunches, all the way through until just before harvest. We cut off as much as 40% and many visitors to the estate commented on the poor desiccating bunches on the ground.
Come harvest time, we were left with unblemished, perfectly formed and ripe healthy bunches. The pickers could move through the vineyards quickly as the selection had already been done by specially trained teams of “droppers”and in most cases the grapes were all in by 10am.
Generally we achieved proper ripeness at lower sugar levels, especially on the Merlot where we are seeing opulence and fruit expression at around 13,2 % alcohol. I think this is as a result of the low cropping levels. The vine places all its available resources into ripening a smaller crop more evenly.
I am particularly pleased with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc at this early stage. The wines are showing intensely dark, bright healthy colours, wonderfully pure fruit on the nose and palate and condensed, linear tannins. Eighteen months of barrel aging will ensure that the true beauty of these varieties will emerge.
We have identified selected Chardonnay lots that will make it into our Estate bottled Chardonnay. What we have in barrel encapsulates what I feel is the right direction for our Chardonnay - tangy, creamy, with a minerally nose and a full bodied, stony and chalky palate.
The Pinot Noir has just finished the malo-lactic fermentation and although it is particularly closed and brooding at this stage, it has a bright lively colour and is hinting at an enticingly musky nose. Again, we have not used about 30 % of the Pinot fruit, it was sold off early on because it did not meet our standards.
So, broadly a promising vintage. Everything at this stage is still in single vineyard lots. In mid-July we tasted the various lots and I am now working out my blends before the first racking, after which they will be returned to barrel for elevage.
All early indications are that 2007 is a very promising vintage. Our top vineyards are performing beautifully now that Roelie Joubert has achieved a balance between growth and fruit production. The younger vineyards are being closely monitored for their future contribution to our wines.
- Chris Williams, August 2007