First juice in the cellar

6 February 2013

Our first grapes of the season are in the cellar now, the juice busy cold-settling, to be racked off as clear juice in 24 hours time. I only picked a small crop from our Chardonnay block, and with a little bit of road-side sorting to make sure that we really took out the best of it. The quality is great, and we got the picking date spot-on so it is a great start to the harvest.

Koos Kellerman and the road-side weighing and sorting (left), and the cellar at Hemelrand (right)
Koos Kellerman and the road-side weighing and sorting (left), and the cellar at Hemelrand (right)

Tomorrow I will rack it off to barrel where the natural yeast population will start turning it into wine. I’m lucky to be sharing a bit of space at Hemelrand, where my first vintage is going to be born. It’s a beautifully kitted-out little cellar, with everything I need for the kind of wines that I want to make this year.

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Abdullah and Ernest tipping Chardonnay into the Vaslin press

I dig the Vaslin press which acts like an old-style basket press turned on its side. It’s a great way of working really oxidatively with the juice, which allows me to peel away the boring primary fruit and get to the core of the wine.

White Semillon or ‘Groendruif’ (left) mutates into Red Semillon (right) in the same block
White Semillon or ‘Groendruif’ (left) mutates into Red Semillon (right) in the same block

It’s great to have some juice in the cellar at last, and I’m keeping an eye on everything coming in over the next two weeks. Next up is some awesome Semillon from Franschhoek. It’s a great old block and kicking out some amazing flavours already. We’ll take in some white Semillon from the block tomorrow, and then there will still be some red Semillon or Semillon gris vines dotted around the vineyard (it’s a random mutation) which will get picked next week. Red semillon is a mutation of the white that happens in the vineyard. It’s pretty phenomenal stuff and I’m looking forward to pushing the boundaries with it when it comes in next week.

PS: for those of you with some reading time, here’s a good history on Red Semillon by Tim James – Red Semillon – Then and Now

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