Notes on the Vintages


Drinking wine is so much more enjoyable when you know the story, so here are some notes about the wine on your table.

That Wine comes from one of the smaller estates in the country. On a little plot of land in The Crags just outside Plettenberg Bay, a total of 5708 vines have been planted on 1.5 hectares. The total production of the vintage for 2018 is 2930 bottles, with both the 2016 and 2017 vintages being sold-out.

Your bottle is from the third harvest, so the vines are still young with the stems are thickening well, and the new block is growing apace.

If you are a Pinot drinker, you can skip this next bit. Pinot Noir is the hardest grape to grow but also the most rewarding. It has been called the “heartbreak grape” because, as a very thin-skinned varietal it is prone to every pest and fungus that bedevils viticulturists around the world. Pinot is best grown in cool climates, the best come, of course, from Burgundy, but increasingly the wines from Oregon, New Zealand, and Chile are achieving international recognition. In South Africa the best Pinots come from the Hemel and Aarde Valley, but with climate change you can expect to find new areas opening up. The Crags is one such area. Close to the sea and with cooler temperatures than those in the Western Cape, this is an area that can produce superb Pinot Noir.

There are only five places in the world where you can buy That Wine: at Bramon Wine Estate next door to us in The Crags, Fynboshoek Restaurant in the Tsitsikamma, The Table Restaurant in Plettenberg Bay, Beacon Isle Kwickspar in Plett, The Peppermill in The Crags and of course, from us (so six, really).

We hope you enjoy the wine’s excellent structure.

Lustrous garnet red in colour, with primary aromas of black cherry, strawberry and pine, with hints of truffle and pine needles. Gentle aging in French Oak barrels gives complex, delicate structure. Long in the mouth. Moderate tannins, good acid spikes.

Going from strength to strength, the new vines produced excellent fruit. The harvest again doubled in size despite our aggressive shoot and fruit thinning with a total of 3030 bottles produced. The weather was challenging but the vines rose to the challenge and we produced an excellent wine – good body and structure with all the bright acids, rich berries, and gentle tannins of the first two years.


VARIETY:

100% Pinot Noir – Single vineyard wine

HARVEST DATA:

Brix – 22.5% / Production level 3.6 tonnes on ½ ha

WINEMAKER:

Anton Smal

WINEMAKING:

Destemmed & crushed / Fermentation vessel: Polymer loose lid tank / Fermentation Barrel type – French Oak / New wood – 30% / Maturation – 9 months on the wood / Filtration – yes / Bottled – Dec 2018

WINE ANALYSIS:

Alcohol: 12.44% / pH: 3.64 / Residual sugar (g/l): 2.1 / Acidity (g/l): 5.7 / SO² at bottling (mg/l): 99

PRODUCTION:

3030 (750ml) bottles

TASTING NOTES:

Lustrous garnet red. Primary aromas of black cherry, strawberry with hints of truffle and pine needles. Gentle aging in French Oak barrels gives complex, delicate structure. Long in the mouth. Moderate tannins, good acid spikes.

FOOD MATCH:

The most versatile wine in terms of food paring. Compliments Pizza, Beef – Braaied or Bourguignon, Casseroles, Stews, Mushroom or Truffle based dishes, Pastas, Venison, Duck, Chicken, Salmon (or any rich fish), Camembert & Brie.

CELLARING:

Up to 8 years from vintage.


The vines were a year older and were stronger and more uniform. It was a hot, dry summer and the berries were small and full of flavour. Again, we significantly reduced the crop load so as not to tire the young vines. The yield was double that of 2016, making 1282 bottles! We harvested earlier and the wine was lighter bodied with more red berry notes, hints of forest floor, elegant structure and low tannins.  SOLD OUT


The first crop had a difficult time: we had quite a wet spring with consequent mildew problems. The berry size was quite large for Pinot, and we lost a lot of grapes to birds and botrytis. We made a grand total of 577 bottles but despite the difficulties, the verdict from expert opinions (many opinions) has been that this is an excellent beginning.   Young as it was, it displayed several of the important characteristics: good legs, exceptional colour, definite structure. The tannins were very gentle. Second-fill barrels were used, so the wood is very light, and the acids are good. – SOLD OUT


2018 Vintage

Going from strength to strength, the new vines produced excellent fruit. The harvest again doubled in size despite our aggressive shoot and fruit thinning with a total of 3030 bottles produced. The weather was challenging but the vines rose to the challenge and we produced an excellent wine – good body and structure with all the bright acids, rich berries, and gentle tannins of the first two years.


VARIETY:

100% Pinot Noir – Single vineyard wine

HARVEST DATA:

Brix – 22.5% / Production level 3.6 tonnes on ½ ha

WINEMAKER:

Anton Smal

WINEMAKING:

Destemmed & crushed / Fermentation vessel: Polymer loose lid tank / Fermentation Barrel type – French Oak / New wood – 30% / Maturation – 9 months on the wood / Filtration – yes / Bottled – Dec 2018

WINE ANALYSIS:

Alcohol: 12.44% / pH: 3.64 / Residual sugar (g/l): 2.1 / Acidity (g/l): 5.7 / SO² at bottling (mg/l): 99

PRODUCTION:

3030 (750ml) bottles

TASTING NOTES:

Lustrous garnet red. Primary aromas of black cherry, strawberry with hints of truffle and pine needles. Gentle aging in French Oak barrels gives complex, delicate structure. Long in the mouth. Moderate tannins, good acid spikes.

FOOD MATCH:

The most versatile wine in terms of food paring. Compliments Pizza, Beef – Braaied or Bourguignon, Casseroles, Stews, Mushroom or Truffle based dishes, Pastas, Venison, Duck, Chicken, Salmon (or any rich fish), Camembert & Brie.

CELLARING:

Up to 8 years from vintage.

2017 Vintage

The vines were a year older and were stronger and more uniform. It was a hot, dry summer and the berries were small and full of flavour. Again, we significantly reduced the crop load so as not to tire the young vines. The yield was double that of 2016, making 1282 bottles! We harvested earlier and the wine was lighter bodied with more red berry notes, hints of forest floor, elegant structure and low tannins.  SOLD OUT


2016 Vintage

The first crop had a difficult time: we had quite a wet spring with consequent mildew problems. The berry size was quite large for Pinot, and we lost a lot of grapes to birds and botrytis. We made a grand total of 577 bottles but despite the difficulties, the verdict from expert opinions (many opinions) has been that this is an excellent beginning.   Young as it was, it displayed several of the important characteristics: good legs, exceptional colour, definite structure. The tannins were very gentle. Second-fill barrels were used, so the wood is very light, and the acids are good. – SOLD OUT

ABOUT PINOT NOIR

Scientific name: Vitis vinifera “Pinot Noir”.

The name is derived from the shape of the bunches of grape which are densely packed and look like pine cones and the darkness of the grapes hence Pinot Noir (pine + black).

Origin: Burgundy, France

Other names: Blauburgunder, Spätburgunder, Rulandské modré, Pinot Nero

And, just for fun: Oenology is the science and study of wine and winemaking; distinct from viticulture, the agricultural endeavours of vine-growing and of grape-harvesting. The English word oenology derives from the word oinos, “wine” and the suffix –logia “study of” from the Ancient Greek language. (Wikipedia quote)

A BIT OF HISTORY OF PINOT NOIR - THE FRENCH SIDE

The Home of Pinot Noir

In Burgundy, during the middle ages, the church ruled and owned vast tracts of land, it was the lot of the monks to work the land. The Cistercian monks tended and planted vineyards around their monasteries and kept detailed notes as to conditions, temperatures, terroir where vines flourished or not. In essence theirs were the first harvest notes, they not only codified winegrowing, but turned it into an extremely profitable trade. Their written legacy contributed to the preservation of the terrior of the Bourgogne winegrowing region and for the demarcation of the Burgundy crus. The strip of land for Pinot Noir – just 30km long & 2km wide – is known as Côte D’or – or Slope of Gold. Pinot Noir was used for the sacrament wine in masses and as such had to be of the finest quality.

The Edict of 1395

The Dukes of Bourgogne (Burgundy) from the 14th century onwards were influential in the production and trade of wine. Philip the Bold issued an edict in 1395 which provided for the safeguarding of the production of quality wine. It involved two key decisions concerning the wine varietals to be cultivated in the Bourgogne winegrowing region: It banned the making of Gamay, a popular every-day wine which the dukes felt would compromise the quality image of the Bourgogne wines; and it recommended the use of Pinot Noir.

Although Pinot Noir offered lower yields its results are more complex and exquisite wines, and these were exported outside the Bourgogne region. Philip the Bold of Burgundy was a big fan! The edit gave an enormous boost to the region and improved the quality of its wine. As its influence grew, Bourgogne wines were being served at the tables of the King of France and the Popes in Avignon. This prestigious beverage was a powerful political asset and the Dukes knew how to use it. In 1429, Philip the Good founded the chivalric Order of the Golden Fleece in Bruges, to help the spread of Catholicism, and Bourgogne wines were the favoured drink of its knights. Similarly, this elite wine flowed bountifully at the Feast of the Pheasant, a major diplomatic event also hosted by Philip the Good. From there, Burgundy wines gradually conquered all of European high society, from the nobility to the bourgeoisie, opening up some formidable trade opportunities.

The French Revolution and beyond

During the French Revolution (1789-99) the National Constituent Assembly seized the properties and lands of the church & nobility and issued assignats (paper money) against these properties which were now known as biens nationaux (national goods). The lands were sold off by the state creating the independently owned and run vineyard model which still survives today. The Napoleonic inheritance laws resulted in the continued subdivision of these most precious of vineyards, to the effect that some growers own only a row or two of vines.

In 1855, Dr Jules Lavalle published Bordeaux Wine Official Classification, which included an unofficial classification of the Burgundy vineyards. This classification was formalised in 1861 and consisted of three classes, with the first class vinyards given the title GRAND CRU appellations d’origine contrôlées (AOC).

There are four main categories that French wine is placed into:

Vin de Table: the house wine, unassuming everyday drinking wines, known for affordability. The quality in relation to price is actually quite high. Does not list the area where the grapes are grown.
Vin de Pays: country wine – says where the wine is produced, and indicated the grapes used which ensures the wine meets the qualities of the region.
Vin Délimité de Qualité Superieure (VDQS): the least know of the 4 designations making up just 2% of the French market, it’s a step up from Vin de Pays in price and quality.
Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC): the highest designation with the most restrictions and requirements. Because it is tasted before being given the designation no wine is guaranteed the AOC designation two years in a row.

POETRY

Writing in the time of the Tang Dynasty, Li Po’s poetry ushered in a golden time in Chinese writing and he explored relationships, the natural world and the pleasure of wine.

Wine

Drinking, I sit,
Lost to Night,
Keep falling petals
From the ground:
Get up to follow
The stream’s white moon,
No sign of birds,
The humans gone.

by Li Po