“Despite the dry winter and hot weather during spring and early summer, things cooled in the Breedekloof towards the last half of January,” says Thomson. “This slowed ripening -. we traditionally begin the harvest with Sauvignon Blanc, and this year’s conditions allowed the variety to gain some extra hang-time in the vineyards. The first grapes hit the harvest bins on 31 January – a full ten days later than last year.”
Thomson says he is looking for Sauvignon Blanc grapes a bit riper than usual and at around 20° balling to round-out the fruit-expression in this wine, which has become one of the pillars of the popular Du Toitskloof brand.
“The grapes’ chemistry is ideal for making a great Sauvignon Blanc of complexity, freshness and optimal expression of the Breedekloof terroir which has shown to provide a style of wine consumers cannot seem to get enough of,” he says. “The drinkability is of the rewarding kind, clean freshness with underlying hints of tropical fruit. Coupled with our accessible price points it is no wonder this wine has grown to being one of South Africa’s best-loved Sauvignon Blancs.”
Thomson says the current analysis of the Sauvignon Blanc juice shows acids of 8.5g/l and a near ideal 3,2pH. A low pH is an indication of healthy grapes with the potential to produce wines of structure and complexity.
“As we just started the harvest I can’t make a call on yields being up or down just yet,” he says. “Bunches definitely appear to me lighter, with smaller berries of intense flavour concentration,” he says.
Du Toitskloof Wines’ state-of-the-art harvest facility which has been in use since 2015 is capable of handling 700 tons of grapes daily if required. The cellar harvests an average of 14 000 tons per annum.
Thomson says that farmers are already bringing in 200 tons of Sauvignon Blanc a day. “The fruit is very healthy – few bugs or fungi stand a chance in these dry conditions.
“The challenge will be on the logistics side – the grapes are now ripening at a rate of knots and we could see many varieties being harvested at the same time, placing pressure on the cellar. But that is part of winemaking! Fortunately the new harvest cellar, which was commissioned in 2015, has the capacity and state-of-the art technology to not only deal with the big volumes, but to ensure we produce wine of a continually improving quality.”