Release of Barrel Select Range 2012
On releasing the 2012 vintage of Pinotage and Shiraz Barrel Select Reserve we are pleased to provide the following technical information.
Pinotage has always been the flagship grape varietal on the Wildekrans Estate and the Barrel Select Reserve range receives the best grapes and best possible treatment. It is very important to ensure that we maintain a certain quality connection between all the wines produced on the Estate. However, with the high cost of French barrels combined with the fact that certain blocks yield a more intense flavour than others, we are able to deliver a wine that is truly exceptional, whilst maintaining the fine golden thread of quality that distinguishes it from the general style of the estate wine ranges.
Despite the intense heat waves that occur every January, the water resources on the Estate are more than sufficient to cope with the more extreme weather conditions. The cool Atlantic sea breeze serves as a natural air-conditioning factor and brings a welcome cooling effect to the summer days. These cool winds have a hugely beneficial effect on the ripening of the grapes. Phenolic ripeness is a combination of elements that need to be balanced in the grapes before harvesting. If the ripening takes place too quickly, the wine needs more attention throughout the fermentation process.
The bush vines have, as always, rendered rich flavours, with the younger bush vines adding a fresher, more elegant style to the wine, together with a certain sense of richness and fullness derived from the riper style produced by the older bush vines which were planted in 1994. The grapes are harvested by hand into 20kg lugs, and the stalks are separated before the must is pumped into red wine fermenters with open tops for punch-downs in addition to pump-overs. All the tanks are equipped with cooling jackets to prevent overheating. Movement on the wines-must is done every two hours for serious extraction from the skins, which adds the full flavour and rich colour to the wine. Malolactic bacteria is inoculated together with the yeast for a co-inoculation effect to take place. This helps to speed up the process and prevent a delay taking place during the second fermentation process, which could cause the formation of acetic acid due to the absence of sulphur dioxide during this sensitive acid conversion process. Following extraction to the maximum levels, the skins are separated by means of pressing the grapes in a 5 ton membrane press. The wine is then allowed to settle overnight to ensure that only clean wine is racked into the new barrels, free from excessive sediment to prevent clogging of the pores in the oak. After three months the batch is removed again and the barrels are washed and stacked for the final ageing period of eighteen months minimum. Contrary to the general belief that a wine ‘goes to sleep’ for this period of time, it in actual fact remains very active and is analysed monthly to understand its needs and take the appropriate action.
The 2012 vintage of both the Pinotage and the Shiraz Barrel Select Reserve yielded a total count of 9 800 bottles. The wine is structured with well-balanced fruit and tannins, and is slightly lower in alcohol than previous vintages, offering a more relaxed, leisurely and thoroughly enjoyable drinking experience. We have just received the good news that both of these premium wines were awarded a Gold Decanter Medal in Europe. This is a great honour when you consider that over 15 000 different wines from all around the world are entered for one of the world’s most prestigious awards.
The Pinotage Barrel Select also won a gold medal in the Monde World Awards which is another highly prestigious European award. The Shiraz won a silver award. We are looking forward to a really good medal harvest this year for these two flagship wines.