Friday, 2 April, 2004
Riaan Marais
Barrydale Wine Cellar's newsletter
If you've travelled on the R62 between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn recently, you'll know what I mean when I say the harvest is in the air. The smell of the must and fermenting juice follows one all the way, almost from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn and beyond, and you definitely don't need a road map to find any of the cellars along the way. All one has to do, is follow your nose. (After all, we all know how important a wine's nose is!) Otherwise simply follow the trucks laden with grapes.

As I am sitting in my office I can see the trucks rolling in at the gate. The first Sauvignon Blanc was delivered at the beginning of February followed by the other white varietals. If everything goes according to plan - in as far as winemakers can predict the future - we should harvest the last grapes just after Easter. So far we've brought in about half the harvest and have finished pressing the white varietals. And I must say, I haven't had any reason for concern: Right from the very first pressing the Sauvignon Blanc showed really lovely flavours. This probably is the result of the wonderfully cool evenings we had during the growing season. During the whole period there were only three warm nights where the temperature did not drop to at least 10°C below the day temperature. This meant the grapes could ripen at their leisure.

With all the young white wines in the tanks, it defintely seems to be the year for Chardonnay, which already shows a lovely green colour and crisp flavours. The Chardonnay crop was bigger than last year because of several vineyards coming into full production for the first time. As most of these vineyards are in the Tradouw Valley the wine will be bottled under the Tradouw Wine of Origin label.

Two new wines to be released
As far as the red varietals go, the Shiraz from the Tradouw is among the best we've ever had. The berries are small with an excellent rich colour. When rubbing them, the purple actually stains your hand. The analysis of the grapes is equally promising. I have therefore decided not to use all the Shiraz for blending as I have done in the past. A limited quantity will be bottled as a varietal wine under the Tradouw label. I would like to make a full, robust wine in much the same style as the Tradouw Merlot and age it in French oak.

Talking of the French, it seems that the name Shiraz is now making headway even in France with the recent acceptance of Shiraz alongside Syrah. While there will be an 18-month wait for the Shiraz to mature before it can be enjoyed, the second addition to our range, the Misty Point Rosé, will be available by June. This is the first time we've included a rosé in the Misty Point range. Made from Pinotage, the rosé will, just like the Misty Point White and Misty Point Red, combine quality and easy drinking. Both these wines will be available from selected bottle stores and directly from the cellar.

Riaan Marais, Winemaker, Barrydale Wine Cellar