By winemaker Roelof Lotriet and farm & vineyard manager Corlia Erasmus.
Shame on me for using the word “normal” in a time like this but that’s really what happened in the 2021 vintage.
Before the start of the harvest everyone was set on the fact that we would be harvesting 2weeks later than usual, but usual only describes the last 5 years of drought and excessive heat. We were in fact harvesting the same time that we would pre drought.
The winter rain leading up to bud break was incredible and for the first time in a very long time the dam levels in the winelands were at 100% capacity. Temperatures dint reach freezing cold but it was a rather chilly winter and also stayed with us for a longer time.
We made the decision in that we would use this pandemic to give our vineyards a chance to “recover” by toning down the yield for 2021 harvest and making sure every grape that enters the cellar is of premium quality.
As always our focus remained on sustainable farming – meticulously managing our canopies to ensure berry temperatures remained favourable allowing our grapes to ripen equally and maturing into flavour.
Vineyards were irrigated sparingly, given only what was actually required and measured down to the last drop – we even farmed one third of our grapes organically, an approach that will definitely weave through our practices in the future.
Harvest kicked of the last week in January with Pinotage for Rosé and the rest of the vineyards patiently stood queue. It was almost systematic how each cultivar would wait its turn to ripen one after the other with barley an overlap.
The weather played along as well, only a handful of days actually went above 30˚C and I think this resulted in well balanced natural acids in the wine. There was a rain scare towards the end of the harvest but by that time we had harvested almost everything.
“cool and collected” sums up our 2021 harvest – not only referring to the weather – while our industry and rest of the world were scattered and busy dealing with all the challenges of the pandemic, behind our gates – our grapes were peacefully and silently developing into greatness.
Summary of grapes:
White cultivars this year expressed phenomenal flavours and natural high acids. The Chardonnay and Chenin blanc stood out for me as analytically and sensorially as a promising vintage. This would also be the first year we introduce Chenin blanc used for our “wild ferment” in concrete egg tanks.
Red cultivars flourished with the 10days of “extra” hang time. The colour and tannin development was fantastic and also got a lot of naturally high acids without the sugars climbing too much. Should be a good vintage for barrel and bottle maturation.
Sweet wines got a nice bump with the colder weather and splash of rain towards the end of harvest. The botrytis infection was very good with little to no sour rot.
Overall I think 2021 vintage was back normal in many ways with quality of the grapes and wines looking very promising.