Tanks that fly, wines that soar

Friday, 29 October, 2004
Marius Labuschagne
All the seeds of nature were left unturned when the winery was build here on the Lourensford farm in Somerset West. It is the perfect combination of modern technology and soft vinification to portray the supreme micro-climate for wine-growing we are privileged to have here, especially due to the lingering cool climate. Lourensford Newsletter October 2004

Dear Wine Friend,

Reverie became reality on the 5th  February 2003 when the first loads of grapes, of our maiden vintage, arrived at the cellar door. Like astronauts landing on some distant, inhospitable planet, the winemaking team had to explore the area and map it into a familiar territory. We are not talking small time here. The winery covers one hectare and has been designed to process 5 000 tons of grapes. It cost nearly ninety million rand to build.

The most outstanding feature of the Lourensford Winery is that it operates without a pump, the main reason being our flying tanks. Satellite tanks, holding five tons of crushed grapes, are conveyed by gantry cranes to the fermentation vessels, where their load is deposited. This is quite a high for all, but especially for the characteristics nature created in the grapes.

Because no pumps are used to move the grapes from the pressing cellar to the fermentation tanks, there is no direct contact with operating and vibrating machinery and therefore these grapes preserve their natural structure of fruit flavours. This superior soft treatment also almost guarantees that no negative phenols or tannins are extracted from the skins.

The process of producing wine does not create fruit, it is naturally there. You must secure it in such a way that it is finely released when the bottle is opened for your enjoyment.

This philosophy of minimal mechanical intervention is implemented from the word harvest. The handpicked grapes are received in small lots to minimize bruising of the fruit and all the clusters are hand selected in the winery, to make sure only the full ripe and healthy ones supply the final product.

From the soil to the fermentation process in a natural way and from there the next tasteful phase of absolute fine wines is entered, namely wood maturation. Lourensford's range of wines came out of the proverbial closet when we recently held a first-time barrel tasting.

Chardonnay in French oak and Viognier in Hungarian oak greeted the visitors upon entering. Then followed four reds, each duplicated in two different coopers or differing wood types. Merlot rested in Saury and Demptos barrels, Shiraz soared in American and French oak. Cabernet Sauvignon cavorted in Berger and Sylvain, while Pinotage played in Taransaud and Canton.

It was quite interesting for all to come into contact with the various flavour characteristics the different oak barrels added to the wines' palatable body, but one thing stood out - outspoken and accessible fruit. The Barrel tasting is a must repeat for 2004.

On that sensationally tasteful note, Lourensford's wine tasting centre opened its doors on 1 December last year and our hands are always eager to pour. The first season at Lourensford has seen the production of wines in all three quality levels - from the entry level to the flagship Reserve range.

A definitive red blend, christened Seventeen Hundred, is the first in the Lourensford line-up. In the Five Heirs range a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage were produced. At the entry level we delivered an Eden Crest white blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, while the red appeared as a Shiraz-Merlot blend.

Lourensford is another Christo Wiese brainchild and his total commitment to preserve the environment and have wine produced as naturally as humanly possible, deserves recognition.

But most of all, the results must have the taste buds in awe - flying high in the delectable sky. The wine tasting centre at the winery is open from Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 17:00 and Saturday from 09:30 to 14:00.

Joy to you and the grapes of harmony,
Philip Costandius (cellar master) and the Lourensford team.

Lourensford Winery
Lourensford Road, Somerset West 7130
Tel: +27 21 847 1661
Fax: +27 21 847 1669
E-mail: cwp@lourensford.co.za
Website: www.lourensford.com