In their own words, here's a harvest update and some great pics from the De Trafford team:
The end of the harvest is in sight with some of our more vigorous blocks of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot still to pick, as well as our usual little parcel of Petit Verdot. It's been an interesting, somewhat strange season with almost weekly rain in spring and slightly cooler conditions overall. We used some softer than organic, eco-friendly spray products like Trichoderma and Bacillus and this was not very effective in our conditions up against the mountain. The result was a lot of downy mildew damage to both the leaves and the pedicels/stalks, which we haven't had since 1997. This reduced the crop by about 30% (mostly Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon) and meant picking was painstakingly slow, trying to remove dehydrated berries due to the stalks drying out. The good news is that 1997 turned out excellent and all our wines are still drinking well with a nutty complexity. (A bit like Amarone di Valpolicella with lower alcohol!)
So far, the Chenin Blancs, halfway through their ferments, are looking exceptional. We're especially pleased with the additional 37-year-old block in the Bottelary hills we managed to get. All our barrels are full, plus a few small stainless steel tanks for topping up wine, as well as our two
We usually add a small portion whole bunches to our Syrah, but this year, as the stalks seemed a little riper than usual, we tried two 100% whole bunch tanks. The one is looking fantastic; the other, we're not so sure at this stage. We also included 20% whole bunch to one tank of Merlot, which we've never done before. In general, one tries to avoid any green influence in the Bordeaux varietals, but in this specific case the stalks were so ripe and it seems to be working nicely and should add a lovely herbal, nutty element.
We've just got most of our Cabernet in last week and it really is looking beautiful, so looking forward to something outstanding.
David - we can't wait to taste the efforts of this vintage and know that you find joy amongst the beautiful vines just from the expression on your face in the picture below. We raise our glasses to you and your team and look forward to seeing you soon on our Gauteng Wine Professionals Tour from the 24th to 27th of March.