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Vintage Report 2010

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Bein Merlot 2010

The Bein Merlot 2010, harvested March 23-25, is a worthy successor of the previous two vintages. It might look gimmicky, but in fact we are very excited about this fantastic row of great vintages we had at Bein Wine - 2008, 2009 and now 2010! However, quantity was significantly down, with a yield of not even half a bottle per square meter.

In this vintage, also other varieties produced excellent wines in Stellenbosch, and we were again tempted to get some decent partners for our Merlot. After countless trials and blind tastings, we decided to spice up our 2010 Merlot with some excellent ripe Malbec and a tiny splash of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Together with the maturation in French oak barriques, the wines developed a beautiful complexity. According to their different origins within our vineyard, we could distinguish and bottle once again three different red wines:

Vintage Report 2009-2010

Winter 2009 was a typical, normal Cape winter, with generally milder temperatures and good long rains. And there are those wonderfully sunny, crystal clear days, which are so special to the Cape. It makes pruning, our main vineyard job during winter, such a relaxing experience.

Early summer, i.e. November, started off on a bad note, with strong winds and heavy rain, unfortunately right at the beginning of flowering. Luckily, the rain stopped during the main flowering, though the strong winds went on till December. For many farmers, this season will be remembered as a challenge in combating fungal infections, but on our farm, we luckily could keep them down thanks to modern technology. On the other hand, the temperatures were moderate throughout, and the untimely rain filled the soils up to field capacity, making any irrigation superfluous until veraison.

Early summer is also the season which keeps us very busy in the vineyard, with suckering, shoot positioning, tipping and, eventually, crop thinning. This year again, this was done mercilessly by cutting out every second bunch in order to improve the quality of the remaining fruit. Naturally, we couldn't know yet that the crop would be very small anyway, although our estimates did indicate some decrease in quantity.

Exactly on the first day of January 2010 we saw the first signs of veraison (change of colour) as herald of the ripening season. Ripening itself was characterised by slightly above average temperatures and some few sporadic showers during February. March however was unusually warm, and the plants got quite exhausted from the continuously dry and windy weather.

We decided this year to try something new and harvest the lush parts of our vineyard (as defined by Precision Viticulture) two weeks earlier in order to vinify it as rosé only. This allows us to match harvest timing to the specific requirements of the rosé, i.e. for lower sugar, fresher flavors and crispier acidity.

Harvest of the grapes for Bein Merlot 2010 started eventually on March 23. Rain was announced, so we hurried to get everything in within three days. The crop was significantly smaller than expected, but - it must be emphasized - of excellent quality: smaller bunches with smaller berries, thicker skins, tougher pulp, and accordingly less juice.

As it appeared later on, the harvest was down in the entire area of Stellenbosch and the surrounding wards. This was mainly due to the influence of wind and weather and in some cases to losses caused by downy mildew.