De Wetshof Bon Vallon – No Wood; Double Gold

Thursday, 10 October, 2013
De Wetshof
De Wetshof Bon Vallon, South Africa’s first un-wooded Chardonnay, maintained its reputation as one of the country’s prime examples of this wine style with the 2013 vintage of this wine winning a Double Gold medal at this year’s Veritas Awards, South Africa’s premier wine competition. It was only one of two un-wooded Chardonnays to be awarded this accolade.
Peter de Wet, De Wetshof wine-maker, says a Veritas Double Gold for an un-wooded Chardonnay underscores the increase in recognition for this style.

“Having worked in Chablis, the Holy Grail for un-wooded Chardonnay, I have always been fascinated by the structure, complexity and graceful elegance of Chardonnays in their most pure form as this allows maximum terroir expression,” he says.“Soils rich in limestone and broken mountain rock on De Wetshof’s site-specific vineyards allow the Bon Vallon to emit optimum varietal expression. And with an un-wooded Chardonnay, a wine-maker can only nurse the fruit through fermentation and lees contact – the rest is up to the grape. Fortunately the splendid 2013 vintage ensured grapes of superb quality.”

According to De Wet the cold, wet winter of 2012 ensured a deep slumber for the vines, with bud-break and flowering commencing a week or so later than usual. “The first real summer heat only arrived in December, and I’d rather have heat in December than late January or early February when our Chardonnay is harvested,” he says.
The harvesting of the grapes for the De Wetshof Bon Vallon 2013 commenced in early February this year. After picking, pressing and fermentation, the wine was left on the lees in stainless steel for 150 days with weekly stirrings to ensure maximum flavour extraction, as well as to give the wine an assertive mouth-feel and lasting length.

“Here lees contact and the management of the lees-to-wine ratio in the tank are the key elements.”
De Wet says un-wooded Chardonnays complement South Africa’s Chardonnay category and have helped pave the way for a surge in interest in this variety.

“The un-wooded style gives Chardonnay-lovers a broader spectrum to choose from,” he says. “And this has most certainly helped attract more wine enthusiasts, both old and new, to the wonders of this most noble white grape.”