Fine start to 2004

Monday, 19 January, 2004
Wynand Hamman
Lanzerac’s January newsletter
I received the best ‘welcome back to work’ I could have wished for when I returned from the summer break to beautifully healthy vineyards that had soaked up every last drop of the 28mm of rain to fall over Christmas.

The berries are small and ripening evenly with just the right foliation to protect them from direct heat and ensure they receive diffuse sunlight to promote the accumulation of sugars and flavours. Sometimes, when spring temperatures have been too cold during flowering, delayed foliation can occur, as well as uneven ripening. Mercifully, we have been spared this.

As if the happy state of the vines wasn’t enough, I awoke to rain on Monday. The cooler weather brought on by the downpour was the right antidote to the sweltering week-end that caused a little bit of sun and wind burn.

But I sympathise with the table grape and deciduous fruit farmers who may be experiencing some fruit burst as a result of Monday’s downpour. The problem occurs when fruit has already ripened. Luckily, at this stage of the season, the wine grapes are fairly green with sugar levels still to develop during the final ripening process over the next few weeks. We just have to hope for relatively mild temperatures from now on so sugars accumulate slowly and grape flavours are retained.

Harvesting from the end of January
As things stand, it looks as if we shall start harvesting from the last week of this month, beginning with Pinotage and then, about a week later, the Chardonnay, and after an interval of a few more days, the Sauvignon Blanc. Then we plan to pick the Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and midway through the season (which lasts about five weeks ending early in March) we’ll tackle the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. In case you don’t know, all our fruit is hand-picked and hand-sorted before vinification.

And talking of the harvest, we are selling a limited edition from the farm only of the 2001 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon picked from our Botma’s Kop block by a group of journalists in February that year. You might remember, it was independently vinified from the rest of our Cabernet Sauvignon. Visitors to the farm who have tasted the wine are crazy about its beautiful balance and sumptuous berry flavours, lightly tempered by wood. It sells at R100 a bottle (including VAT) and to my mind, offers outstanding value. It’s a collector’s item (we picked just one ton of grapes to make it) that was closely monitored during its development by the editor of the John Platter South African Wine Guide, Philip van Zyl, who was also one of the pickers.

The 2002 vintage, bottled just before Christmas, still needs some additional maturation but is also a terrific wine, made in the same style. Most likely it will be released later this year.

Being on holiday has made me discursive but I guess it’s now time to get some work done.

Wynand Hamman, Winemaker, Lanzerac Wines & Farming

Issued by: DKC for Lanzerac Wine & Farming
Contact: Pippa Pringle