Cat’s Cradle 2018
Old Vine Chenin Blanc
Swartland Chenin blanc needs no introduction, having long assumed its place among the world’s key expressions of Chenin blanc. Langkloof, where we source our grapes for this wine is an old bush vine Chenin blanc vineyard planted on the granite slopes of the Paardeberg that belongs to the Roussouw family.
An enormous amount of work went into the vineyard during the 2017-2018 growing season to ensure that the vineyard could carry a healthy and balanced crop. Picking was done with a clear eye on the acidity of the crop which can fall away dramatically during the harvest due to low water reserves in the soil.
This is a very clear and bright expression of Chenin blanc, with ground almonds, frangipane flowers, and white peaches on the nose. The palate is poised and fresh with great concentration and “drive” from the vineyard.
Nuts & Bolts
Chenin blanc – Swartland – 39 year old vineyard on weathered granite
Residual sugar – 1.13 g/L
Total acidity – 5.33 g/L
About The Wine
The 2018 vintage saw little respite from the drought which has gripped the Western Cape over the last few years. Low moisture reserves in the Paardeberg make for challenging conditions in the best of years, and we had to pay a lot of attention to ensure that we could harvest ripe, healthy grapes with sufficient acidity. Our key focus during harvest is picking times. If we can pick grapes at the right time, we can achieve tension and ripeness in the wine without the need to manipulate and “dress-up”the wines.
Chenin blanc on granite is something that we have worked with for all the years that we have been making our Thorne and Daughters wines, and this wine made its debut with the 2017 vintage bottling. Unfortunately, yields of Chenin were very low in 2018, so we were only able to bottle 50% of what we would have liked to do, but we have certainly won-out in terms of concentration and quality here.
As with all of our wines, the winemaking is incredibly simple, as we have no desire to stand between the vineyard and its expression as a wine in the glass. The grapes are whole-bunch pressed in an old basket press and there are no additions of sulphur dioxide made on the juice. A rough settling follows pressing after which the wines undergo natural alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in old oak barrels. We add some sulphur dioxide late in the winter, and then again at bottling, keeping the level of sulphur dioxide as low as possible. The result is wines that show tension without losing their suppleness and core, and wines that will reward time in the cellar.