"Cool nights, cool mornings, moderate afternoons and the ever present cool Darling wind. Not much more a winemaker could ask for. These first white grapes came in on nice ripe sugars, healthy acidity and very good pH’s."
And then the harvest changed in a weekend…
We had temperatures on the Saturday of 45°C and more. This went on for the next week. The slow ripening was not that slow anymore. None the less, the bush vines handled it very well. Still received good quality grapes, only now, a little bit faster than what we anticipated. To make the harvest even more challenging, ESKOM had problems to provide us with electricity. Luckily, we have 2 big generators to help us during loadshedding. We installed a bigger and better cooling unit to provide the winemakers more cooling water than last year. This helped a lot with better controlled fermentations and preserving the fruit of fermentation which will show in the quality of the wine.
The Sauvignon Blanc had very good fruit. The flavours you tasted on the grapes, came through on the wines. Ripe tropical fruit and a very well-balanced pallet. I am really eager to see how they will develop.
Chenin Blanc is showing why Darling has the perfect terroir. We harvested the Chenin at different ripeness levels. We have from the “in your face” guava to the very ripe white fruit flavours. With the healthy grapes and good harvesting conditions, the wines are showing really well.
On the reds, the Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignonare showing very well. Very good colour with good red fruit and ripe tannins. The wines are still busy with malolactic fermentation, but all signs are there that they will develop well.
We installed smaller red wine tanks for fermentation. The special selected grapes for our top ranges can now ferment nice and slow. Punch-downs and pump overs can be done in a controlled environment. The components for the Old Bush Vine, Heritage and Gustus series are getting very special attention.
The shortage of wine is still a big concern and very real. I think for next 2 or 3 years we will see this effect of lower stock levels. The biggest challenge for the coming year will be to have enough wine to supply our brandsif another low-volume vintage hits us next year. To secure wine at entry-level price points will be difficult. With the previous 3 years of drought conditions, the yields are down a lot all over the SA wine regions with even irrigated vines struggling to deliver a good yield.
However, I am very happy with the harvest as a whole. The wines show very good promise and I think we have a few stunners in the cellar.”
We are looking forward to experiencing these wines in the bottle!