Durbanville Hills’ Pinotage, Chenin Blanc claim top 10 accolades

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THE Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve Pinotage 2017 has been awarded as one of the Top 10 at the 2020 ABSA Pinotage Competition. More than 149 entries were received for the competition, now it its 24th year. And for the second year in a row, Durbanville Hills achieved a place in the Standard Bank Top 10 Chenin Blanc Challenge hosted by the South African Chenin Blanc Association, this time with the 2019 vintage of the Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc.

Cellar Master, Martin Moore, says it is an incredible achievement for the team and a testament to the unique cool climate terroir of the Durbanville area.

“Our Pinotage blocks have the best views facing the West Coast with panoramic views of the ocean.  The cool ocean breezes and early morning mists bathe the slopes and drench them in cool air and in the afternoon, they benefit from the afternoon sun – conditions most suited to Pinotage. This coupled with our hand-selected choice of wood to soften tannins and integrate flavours, have resulted in quite a remarkable wine.”

The grapes for the wine were selected from an 19-year-old vineyard and hand-picked in small bunches. In the cellar the grapes were handled with minimum intervention and de-stemmed over a sorting table into 15-ton fermenters. The must was left overnight before 10-15% of the juice was drained to concentrate the body, flavour and aroma compounds of the final product. After fermentation and continuous timer-regular pump-over cycles, in combination with compressed air, the wine was matured in a combination of new and second fill, tight grained medium toasted French oak barrels for 14 months.

It’s a well-integrated wine with ripe notes of strawberry, raspberry, plum, dark chocolate and Christmas fruit cake on the nose. The mouth-feel is elegant with silky tannins, concentrated sweet fruit and hints of cinnamon that lingers on the after-taste.

The Collectors Reserve range is unlike anything Durbanville Hills has ever produced. Inspired by Cape Town and the radiant energy and creativity of her people, Durbanville Hills commissioned Capetonian artist Theo Vorster to pair each wine with a prominent Cape Town landmark, most of which are visible from the winery. Vorster is known for creating unique pieces of art in his hand-printed and hand-coloured linocuts, transporting the viewer into an energised, playful dimension.

The Collectors Reserve Pinotage features the Sea Point Promenade which offers breath-taking views of Table Mountain and of the Atlantic Ocean, similar to those experience from the cellar and vineyard.

The cool climate location of Durbanville Hills also enables the crafting of magnificent Chenin Blanc, collecting awards with each vintage and igniting the winemaking team’s love-affair with this versatile varietal.

With more than 136 entries received from 81 producers for the Chenin Blanc Challenge, and tasted blind by a panel of expert judges, the Challenge reflects the growing interest in Chenin Blanc in South Africa and how winemakers are upping their game with innovative releases.

Durbanville Hills will be sharing the R25 000 prize money with the 74 families on its nine-member farms by gifting them food hampers.

White-winemaker Kobus Gerber says Chenin Blanc thrives in the cool climate of Durbanville and is “a joy of a varietal to work with.

“Chenin Blanc is a varietal that holds its acidity well and is an adaptable grape which makes it attractive for innovation.  The Durbanville area’s variety of slopes and hills allowed us to plant the Chenin Blanc vines at the perfect location where the cooling sea breezes and ample sunshine create a dynamic combination for a crisp, aromatic wine.

“It is great to see that Chenin Blanc has shaken off its once rather inglorious history in South Africa, being underestimated at the best of times, made in lacklustre versions or simply used as a blending component. Today Chenin Blanc has become one of the most prominent white wines in South Africa and stylistically it ranges from dry, to sweet, to sparkling. Our Collectors Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc is dry with a well-balanced acidity and ample fruit that celebrates the true varietal DNA of Chenin Blanc.”

The grapes for this wine were selected from two vineyards. On the open easterly side of the valley where the cool sea breeze from Table Bay meets the warmer dry inland air, the north-east facing block exposes the vines to sunlight from early morning, ensuring even ripening. The sandy loam soils allow for draining of excess surface water and good water retention lower down. The second, west-facing, block is exposed to the sun all day until it sets into the ocean and is planted in fairly deep Yellow Clovelly and Red Hutton soils, their clay content allowing for good water retention.

Once harvested, the grapes were crushed and destemmed and the juice cold-settled with regular lees stirring for three days, before being divided into three portions for fermentation: 15% cold fermented in stainless-steel tank and left on its lees for nine months, 75% fermented and matured for nine months in new and older French oak with regular lees stirring, and 10% fermented on the skins and thereafter matured in a combination of old and new French oak barrels. Only the best of each component was selected for the final blend of this extraordinary wine.

The wine is light straw in colour with alluring green edges. Aromas of poached pear, green apple, orange rind, windfall oranges and hints of cinnamon and star anise fill the nose. Elegant and mouth-filling, the wine is creamy textured with orange rind and lemon curd flavours and a zesty, lingering finish.

The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2019 from the Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve range features Vorster’s view of the Company’s Garden which dates back three centuries to the 1650s when fresh produce and supplies were first provided to replenish ships rounding the Cape. Although originally a vegetable garden, it was not long before the first Chenin Blanc vineyards were planted, forming the foundation of South Africa’s wine heritage, and today, the Company’s Garden is recognised for its contribution to the Cape’s horticultural heritage. The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc is a tribute to South Africa’s oldest garden and the origins of Chenin Blanc in the Cape of Good Hope.

The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2019 from the Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve range will be available for purchase soon. Meanwhile, the 2018 vintage, awarded in the 2019 Standard Bank Top 10 Chenin Blanc Challenge, is available from the cellar (as is the Pinotage), online and here, as well as fine wine stores and retails for R160 per bottle.

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