De Wetshof Bateleur Continues to Fly High at Nederburg Auction

Wednesday, 3 October, 2012
De Wetshof Estate
Burgundian plant material, the wine’s true expression of a unique vineyard site and ageing potential. These factors have made De Wetshof’s Bateleur Chardonnay one of South Africa’s premier white wines, a fact again underscored during this year’s Nederburg Auction where the Bateleur recorded the highest price for a white wine for the third year in a row.
A case of four magnum bottles of De Wetshof Bateleur 2008 was sold for R2 600, with the average price for a 9l case of white wine realising R1 051.

According to Danie de Wet, the wine is still made from the same Bateleur vineyard planted in 1987, making this the oldest single vineyard Chardonnay in the country.

“The age of the vines and the low yield of between four to six tons definitely help give the wine personality, elegance and structure, factors which truly come to the fore after bottle-ageing,” says De Wet, a firm believer in the ageing potential of South African Chardonnay.

“However, personality and character in a wine is only achieved from vineyard sites where the soils and climate form an integral part of the vine,” says De Wet. “The Bateleur plant material, originally imported from the Clos des Mouches vineyard outside of Beaune in Burgundy, has adapted well to the current site. The vineyard is hosted in rocky, mountain soil with an abundance of free limestone and a very high pH, with an additional pronounced clay component providing substantial water retaining capacity.”

The vineyard of 3.51 hectares is planted at 4 000 vines per hectare, slightly higher than the South African average.

At harvest the grapes are picked in the coolness of morning to capture the beautifullyelegant complexities of pear-drop and citrus flavours characterising this vineyard’s fruit. Once de-stemming, pressing and overnight settling have been completed, the juice is racked off from the sediment and moved into Burgundy barrels. After fermentation, the wine remains on the lees under controlled temperatures. Weekly stirring (batonnage) of the lees in the barrels ensures maximum depth of flavour is released into the wine. After some months the wines are racked off the lees and returned to barrels to complete the wood-maturation, spending on average a total of 12 months in wood.

“The fact that the Bateleur continues to command a good price at an event such as the Nederburg Auction shows that pedigree and reputation play - and will continue to play - a major role in the recognition of a wine,” says De Wet. “25 years ago, when the vineyard was planted, I would not have been able to forecast the wine achieving such a reputation. But to see it happen is definitely very satisfying and rewarding. At the end of the day, this is what we viticulturists and winemakers work towards.”
New Bateleur Bottle
New Bateleur Bottle

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