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Vintage report 2011

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Merlot 2011

We really love our Merlot 2011, with its deep-purple colour and the chalky-smooth tannins. It appears that this is again another superb vintage. I know we claimed this already for the previous three years, but it really appears that our vineyard wants to get better every year, trying to outperform any already excellent previous vintages.

Other Bordeaux varieties also performed well in 2011, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. So we complemented all our reds in the traditional manner with some of this variety, spiced up with a dash of Malbec, both of course deriving from our area of origin. And with the usual maturation in small oak barrels from top French cooperages, this regime resulted in flavorful and complex wines. We could produce again this year four different types of wines according to their origin in our vineyard:

Vintage Report 2011

May 4, 2011: Post harvest thoughts

The new wine is peacefully maturing in barrels, having quickly gone through malolactic fermentation. We really love this wine, with its deep-purple colour and its already surprisingly chalky-smooth tannins. It appears that this is again another superb vintage in terms of quality. I know, I know we said this already for the last three vintages! But it really seems that our vineyard wants to get better every year, trying to outperform any already excellent previous vintages.

March 19-21, 2011: HARVEST

This year again, the climate of our cool, south-facing slope allowed our grapes extra hang time for superior maturity, without becoming over-ripe or raisined. Eventually, we harvested - actually on Human Rights Day - just in time before the announced first autumn rains. After all, the ripening season was ideal with plenty of sun but hardly any heat waves, and the nights were pleasantly cool particularly during March, which is ideal for good colour and flavour development. What's more, the continuously dry conditions produced small berries with a correspondingly higher skin/juice ratio, promising particularly concentrated and strong wines.
The sugars, however, were high with 25 Balling (approx. 25 % sugar), though supported by a favorable natural acidity with a pH of just below 3,6. After a short cold-soaking over 3-4 days, the resulting musts were fermented to dryness at moderate temperatures of 25-28°C, after which the young wines went directly into barrels for malolactic fermentation.

March 2, 2011 : Harvest of the grapes for the rosé

We had an excellent ripening season, with lots of sunshine but no real heat waves and no rain at all - ideal ripening conditions, provided you have some extra water. Thanks to our supplementary irrigation, without which we admittedly would have struggled to get our vines through the dry season, we achieved an even and healthy ripening. The crop for our rosé could be harvested on exactly the same day like last year, on the 2nd of March.
As described on our webpage about the vineyard, we subdivide our vineyard into smaller subterroirs according to their growth pattern, which we identify by means of aerial multi-spectral imagery. This allows us to harvest the grapes for the different wines according to their individual needs. For example, the rosé comes from the more vigorous parts and is harvested earlier for fresher fruit flavours and livelier acidity. These grapes for the rosé are then processed like a white wine; the juice is pressed off after a short maceration time (usually 15-20 hours) and then slowly cold fermented, to preserve the delicate fruit flavors.

January 2011: Still warm and dry

Some tiny showers on New Year's Day brought little relief, and the year went on as before: warm and dry, very dry. On the other hand, the beautiful weather combined with the blessings of our supplementary irrigation promoted an ideal and healthy fruit development.

In accordance with the slightly later bud break, colour change was more than a week later and only completed by late January. Like every year, we used this phase to eliminate late-maturing fruit, a task which we could tackle generously, since there is bountiful fruit. We protected the most exposed parts of our vineyard in proximity of trees and bushes with bird nettings, to keep out those unwelcome freeloaders. We can now look forward to a good harvest, which we expect towards end of March - cross fingers that the weather holds until then.

December 2010: warm and dry

After an already dry winter, the first three months of the season didn't bring much rain. And that nice rain everywhere else in the Cape just before Christmas, unfortunately hasn't reached our corner. It's now getting seriously dry, so we are glad to have our supplementary irrigation system. On the other hand, we have been blessed with warm but moderate temperatures and very little wind, and the fruit is developing well and evenly. It looks as if we can tackle the 2011 with much optimism for a good harvest.

November 2010: Flowering

Moderate temperatures with little wind and minimal rain created ideal conditions for an undisturbed flowering and good fruit development. Any late developers, due to the somewhat uneven budding at the beginning of the season, can now be eliminated generously.
This November brought also a novelty of a different kind. As our regular visitors might know, we periodically analyze our vineyard by means of aerial imagery for vigor differences,  which helps us to subdivide our vineyard into smaller micro-terroirs for a more precise management (for more info, see our poster on Precision Viticulture). This year, we used another technology. The multispectral sensors were attached to the tractor and every single vine was scanned. The obtained data are correlated with their GPS coordinates, which finally allows us to create a map showing the varying physiological activities within our vineyard.
This new technique, which is offered by a young company from Beaune in Burgundy (, promises a quality improvement over the aerial remote sensing. We trust this improvement will show up in the wine, too!

October 2010: Spring time

There is lots of work in the vineyard now  with suckering, stem cleaning and watching out for fungal diseases. In the meantime, the barn owls claimed their nest box back, so we put up a second box and installed a camcorder in both. Check out the video sample. We could watch it for hours.

September 2010: dryer than expected

September was abnormally dry. Although the dams are filled to capacity, the vines started the season on dry soils, an unusual situation at this time of the year. This means less vigor to start with, which is good, but might lead to problems later in the year, because there won't be much soil water left for the vines to overcome the dry and warm summer months.

August 2010 : Pruning time

click to enlarge!A rather chilly August and comparably little rain were comfy conditions for our pruning work. Like every year, we start with selecting the canes for the future bearers. These canes will later be short-pruned to two buds in only one day, planned for mid-September, in order to achieve even budding in spring.
All this was cautiously observed by new visitors: a pair of rock kestrels has moved into the owl box under the roof of our winery, where the barn owls last year raised 3 chicks.