Given the challenges of making excellent wine while the drought persists, Perdeberg Cellar’s Viticulturist, Heinie Nel is both realistic and optimistic.
“While the drought is the main topic of conversation every day, the heat alone also plays a huge role in the harvest season. For example, last year in December 2016 and January 2017, there were six hours in total when the temperature was above 35 degrees. Compare that to this season – in December 2017 and January 2018 there were a whopping 27 hours above 35 degrees.”
“As daunting as that all sounds, the Perdeberg Barrel Fermented vines have adapted tremendously and shown relentless courage and stayed true to their given label name – Courageous.”
Due to this heat and the lack of water, Perdeberg is down 30% on the Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc crop compared to last year’s harvest, but the quality remains of the highest calibre – the kind of calibre that keeps winning international awards.
A sustained lack of water has a limiting effect on the vine and forces it to switch from growth mode – when it produces more shoots and leaves – to a reproductive mode, when the concentration of colour and flavour in the berry bursts forth. The result is what every winemaker looks for: small berries with concentrated fruit flavours. This is because small berries allow for a greater ratio of skin to juice and, in red grapes, for example, the skin holds most of the flavour and colour. In short, small berries are very good news and has resulted in the harvesting of the Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc to start earlier than last year and finish earlier.
A quote, attributed to the Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, musician and travel writer, Robert Lewis Stevenson, is the perfect ending to the harvest report for the Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc; “Wine is bottled poetry.” Heinie says that under the most difficult conditions, Perdeberg Cellars produces the most exceptional poetry.