Motivating the importance of the Cape White Blend Report, Winemag editor Christian Eedes says: “Chenin (Blanc) is our most planted variety by far (17 543ha in the ground at the end of 2017, this making up 18.6% of the national vineyard) and we should find ways to celebrate it.”
The grapes for Darling Cellars’ Lime Kilns originate exclusively from the Darling wine district situated on the Cape’s cool West Coast some 70km north of Cape Town and 25km from the Atlantic Ocean.
According to Pieter-Niel Rossouw, cellarmaster at Darling Cellars, the Lime Kilns blend showcases the optimum expression of Darling’s dryland, unirrigated bush-vine vineyards growing in this unique cool climate terroir.
“Bush-vine farming involves minimum human intervention, allowing the grapes to develop truly as nature intended, thus enabling a total natural expression of terroir,” says Rossouw. “The Lime Kilns blend is driven by Chenin Blanc from 38yr old bush-vines, the Darling region being – to my mind – one of the leading areas for Chenin in the world. We have the tradition of farming this variety for decades, the oakleaf soils and climate are ideal, and dryland bush-vines offers excellent varietal expression.”
The backbone of Chenin Blanc was fleshed out with Viognier and Chardonnay to add further dimension, creating a complex yet startling energetic and fresh white wine.
“The yields from all three different variety vineyards are meagre, averaging two to three tons per hectare,” says Rossouw. “As far as picking goes, we waited until the ripeness had reached a stage where the tropical notes (thiols) were evident.”
After crushing and destalking, the wines were barrel fermented in 500l French oak casks, with the final blend made-up before bottling.
“While the aim of the Lime Kilns blend is to create a multi-dimensional wine of complexity and one which is definitely worth putting away to mature for a few years, it must always remain a fresh, bright and energetic wine – a glass of sunshine,” says Rossouw. “At Darling Cellars we and our grape farmer believe our fruit and wine are living products, and we make them to offer consumers the only reward that matters, and that is pure wine-drinking enjoyment.
“The recognition this wine achieved at the Cape White Blend Report shows that we are on the right track.”