Monday, August 22, 2016

Bottling the Vineyard Hotel vineyard's 2016 white wine at Waterford

Once a year, we are invited by The Vineyard Hotel management to join them and prune the vines in the small vineyard on the side of the Liesbeek river in the gardens of the hotel. They have kindly made us custodians of one vine
This year, we were also invited to Waterford wine estate for a tasting of the last four years of the wines that have been made. Waterford, who are one of the four wine farms which sponsor a row of vines, vinified the 2015 vintage. We were to taste the wines and have lunch together
Warmly dressed on a chilly late winter day, we received a warm welcome from Kerry Sutherland and a glass of Waterford's Brut MCC
The beautiful entrance arch. The building is clad entirely from local stone found on the farm; they wanted it to blend into the landscape effortlessly and it does
Waterford Winemaker Mark le Roux
Invited guests and Waterford staff
Roy Davies, General Manager of The Vineyard Hotel tells us the history of vines at The Vineyard. Vines were first planted on the hotel grounds when the original property was owned by Lady Anne Barnard. In 2008 winemaker Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Estate suggested replanting a vineyard. Warwick, Klein Constantia, Meerlust, Waterford and Simonsig came on board and the vineyard of Semillon and Sauvignon was planted. The first vintage was vinified in 2013
There were about 120 bottles this year and we all had a hand in filling one or two bottles
David Wibberley does the first bottle
Another vintage is in bottle
And the bottles get loaded onto the corking machine
Everyone waiting their turn
Kevin Arnold chatting to Lex Petousis
Winemaker Mark le Roux and Kerry Sutherland packing the wine crate
Laying down the bottles for storage
The table laid out for lunch in the beautiful courtyard
Naeema, one of the experienced staff from The Vineyard, uncorking the four vintages of The Vineyard wine
The day was cloudy but not cold. It is a beautiful venue
Mark le Roux bottling a special Waterford Chardonnay fermented in an egg. Everyone attending got a bottle. We labelled our own bottles with a gold Koki pen. There were some artistic attempts
Filling from the egg is rather complicated, you don't want to spill wine
Lynne and journalist Neil Pendock take their places for the tasting
Klein Constantia winemaker Matthew Day with the long line of tasting glasses
GM of The Vineyard Hotel, Roy gives us some background to where wine was originally grown in the Cape near the Vineyard Hotel. It was planted on the banks of the Liesbeek river as early as 1658 or 9. Jan van Riebeeck recorded in his journal, “The Commander consequently intends to plant a large part of the Bosheuvel with young vine shoots during the waning moon which is the correct time.” Bosheuvel was bordered by the banks of the Liesbeek
Enjoying the history lesson are Mark le Roux and Joachim Sa of Amorim Cork
Small portions to taste as the wine is in very short supply. L to R 2013 Blue & Black and 2014 the first grapes were picked on the 12th February 2013. Matthew Day of Klein Constantia made this wine. There were two pressings as the grapes did not fill the press. Blue has some good acidity on the palate, some elegance but is a little one note. Black was the rest of the grapes, too little for the press, so foot stomped and known informally as the toe jam wine. It is perfumed and grapey!
Winemaker Chris Williams of Meerlust tasting the wine
Roy then took us through the 2014 which was the biggest harvest yet, 240 kg which was vinified on Marklew. It's still a little miffy on the nose, but has consistent acidity, grapey with bruised apple. A wine still waiting to come true. The 2015 was made by Chris Williams on Meerlust and was judged by the guests to be the best yet. Perfumed on the nose with crisp acidity and good elegance, it's the good white blend that Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc make. We did taste the 2016 wine we had bottled that day, but it is too young and needs to develop a character in the bottle
Lunch is served ...
... and we began with a lovely platter to share of charcuterie, smoked salmon, cheese, fruit, chutneys, tapenade and good bread
Chefs in the kitchen preparing the main course. This was the quinoa tabbouleh
Chef with the braaied steaks
The beetroot
The mixed vegetables
Lots of positive discussion about the wines
Main course of fire seared fillet steak with quinoa tabbouleh, spring vegetables and glazed beetroot with a red wine jus. We enjoyed some wines from the farms involved with lunch. We particularly liked the Waterford Chardonnay.
The three 'wine makers': Kevin Arnold, the innovator Roy Davies and Mark le Roux
A platter of wicked pastries for dessert
The transport arranged took us back to the Vineyard Hotel where we enjoyed a beer on the terrace in the sun
It's obviously a great meeting place
The trees beginning to burst into spring leaf
It looks like blossom with the sunlight highlighting the pale greenness
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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