14 July 2015

Harvest kicked off for KWV on 6th January bringing in the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for MCC production. It didn’t slow or look back from then on. By the end of February 96% of all our grapes were in the winery. To put this in perspective; this is something that normally happens in the 1st week of April! 

Yes, November was warm on average but the whole growing season and even most of harvest was characterised by cool evenings. Not having looked at all the hard data yet I would be willing to bet that the diurnal difference this year was markedly different from anything we are used to seeing in the Western Cape.This was fantastic for both flavour development as well as phenolics like tannins and colour from the beginning and all the way to harvest. 

December was more of the above warm days and unusually cool evenings but was also very dry with the Cape forgoing the usual December and January rains. This was the clincher, the moisture constraint in the root zone activated hormonal responses in the vines that sped ripening along even further while ensuring great concentration. The cool evenings meant the vines recovered from the heat of the day and the delicate aromatics were preserved (1st clue).

This vintage arrived as a tidal wave that saw us take in 2000 tons of grapes per week for 4 weeks in a row. The growers and farm workers were stretched to their maximum and in the cellar our winemakers and cellar hands worked 24 hour shifts to process the grapes, taking care with each parcel of fruit. It was intense and at times crazy but the KWV team met the challenge with aplomb!

So what of it then? Well, crystal ball gazing is a tough art but, for me anyway, 2015 is the best aromatic white vintage I have ever seen. Yes, I include 2009 in that evaluation. Time and wine will tell as “in vino veritas” but the Sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc and Chardonnay all looked outstanding with each block looking better and coming in with a better analysis than the last. Watch this space, but I think this is a year to buy white wine for aging in South Africa. 

The Reds started out fantastic if a little out of order as Cabernet Sauvignon ripened before Shiraz in most areas. Big phenolics and bright fruit with oodles of acid and storybook analyses. I can’t wait to see how they take wood. The heat wave experienced on 2nd and 3rd of March definitely had an impact on the few grapes still outside and caused serious concentration of everything but in particular, sugars. These components are expected to be a little higher in alcohol than 96% of the 2015 vintage but they are looking great as big fruit components.The final few weeks involved harvesting the last of the reds from Elgin, Bot River, Langeberg and Breedekloof. 

And finally, our Noble Late Sauvignon Blanc from Hermanus– we are all very excited about this one! The journey continues… Finish Great!

~ Marco Ventrella, Chief Viticulturist at KWV