We're in for a great vintage!

Thursday, 29 January, 2004
Martin Moore
News from Durbanville Hills
It's good to be back at the cellar. I have seldom if ever seen the vineyards looking better (being eternal optimists, winemakers always believe the next one is going to be the greatest vintage of them all).

The Sauvignon Blanc in particular is heading for an exceptional year. Up to a few days ago it was ripening very slowly due to the unseasonably cool weather in December and the first half of January (who has ever heard of snow in the Boland on Christmas Day?) and the grapes were showing an intense concentration of flavour. The fierce heat of the last few days has been worrisome, but at the time of writing the vines are still holding up well.

However, not only the Sauvignon Blanc is late, the whole vintage is late. The berries of the red cultivars started to show some colour only about a week ago while that time last year we were already tasting for ripeness. And I just have the feeling it is going to be a long, drawn-out harvest. When in the past the harvest was late, everything would ripen at the same time towards the end, creating a telescopic effect. This year the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are so late I believe we will still be crushing during the Easter weekend. (Please keep that to yourself. I don't want the cellar staff to know!)

We expect to be harvesting the first Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the first week of February. To be totally ready when the first truckload arrives, we have been testing and re-testing the cellar systems (there is somehow some contradiction in having a dry run with water). But however much you test beforehand, you can bet your bottom dollar the moment you start crushing, a valve will go or a pipe will burst with juice all over the place. It happens every time, even in the most modern of cellars.

Hectic holiday season
Boy oh boy, did we have a hectic holiday season! Initially, as we moved into December and the number of visitors remained at a trickle, I was tempted to believe the plaintive cries of local Jeremiahs that tourist numbers were nosediving. And then, in the middle of the month, it was as if someone had opened a floodgate. Sales staff struggled to cope even though we brought on extra staff. Once, when I phoned the cellar from Kleinmond, the phone just kept on ringing. Thinking dark thoughts I kept on trying until I got through later in the day only to hear: ‘But there is no time to pick up the phone. We're under siege!’

I was delighted on my return to discover that there had been quite a run on those older vintages we had brought out especially for the holiday season. These were mainly reds from the 1999 season. I have scrounged around for a few more cases of these reds and they can be yours, if you act quickly.

Valentine's Day
Can you believe it? Valentine's Day is just round the corner. For the romantically inclined - and who would admit to being so dull of spirit that romance does not stir them anymore? - the restaurant has compiled a truly scrumptious 5-course February 14 dinner menu, ranging from a biltong and oven roasted butternut salad to Norwegian salmon with shrimp sauce. The different courses have also been named for the occasion, so that the ‘first kiss’ is followed by ‘seduction’ then ‘foreplay’ until you come to ‘sweet surrender’, followed by ‘floating with the angels’ (in this case coffee and Angels' Share cream liqueur)!

The price is R195 per person and includes sparkling wine on arrival and a glass of Rhinofields Chardonnay with the main course. Phone Simone at +27 (0) 21 558-1300 to make a booking.

Bergkelder Vinotèque
On the latest offer to members of the Bergkelder Vinotèque, two of our wines appear in very select company - the 2001 Merlot and the 2000 Pinotage - offered at very reasonable prices. If you love your wine and you are not yet a member of this unique organisation, you should seriously think about joining. Members have access to special wines with good maturation potential and available in only limited quantities. When you buy wine from the Vinotèque you can either take delivery immediately or it can be cellared on your behalf. Either way, you’ll be supplied with regular reports as to how the wine is maturing and when it will be at its peak. For cellaring your wine, there is a small annual fee, but delivery is free, wherever you live in South Africa.

If that's not a bargain I don't know what is.
For reservations: +27 (0) 21 809-8283
Or visit the website: www.vinoteque.co.za

And now it’s time to raise a glass, this month to all those of us who are young (in attitude if nothing else) and soon to be floating with the angels!

Martin Moore, Winemaker

Issued by: Pippa Pringle
Email: Pippa@dkc.co.za