Thursday, June 13, 2019

Robertson Wine Valley's Wacky Wine Weekend 6. Weltevrede

Up bright and early on a wet and cold morning, we rushed the 45 minutes from McGregor via Robertson to Bonnievale
We were reluctant to take the quick route through the mountains because we had been told it could be slippery
on the dirt road, so we went the long way round
Our schedule said breakfast and we were rather hungry after the previous day's offerings of Roosterkoek
They had a marquee up over the restaurant tasting room area, but it was rather too cold to sit there, so we sat inside
The food on offer at Weltevrede
Chatting with Elzette van Zyl while enjoying a coffee and a cup of tea for Lynne
Our Breakfast Bun, filled with scrambled egg, nice crisp bacon and tomato ketchup
In good weather, they provide picnic baskets
A rainy day, very good for the vines
We were taken down into the underground cellars by Cellarmaster Philip Jonker for a candlelit tasting. They have opened up the old kuipe, concrete tanks in which wine was made in the past. The Jonker family bought the farm in 1912 and it has been worked by four generations thus far. The estate was founded by Klaas Jonker, whose pioneering soul led him to plant the first vines in the area. They still have the vines from the first wine made in 1926, it was a sweet muscat. These vines are now 96 years old. But, as Philip says, they have always responded to the changes in what people want to drink and so now concentrate on Chardonnays. He produces three terroir specific Chardonnays as well as four M├ęthode Cap Classiques, and some very good Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz
He told us some of the history of the farm and how his Great Grandfather started it
He says “My vision for the wines of Weltevrede is for them to be a pure expression of the terroir in which they are rooted
Our wine should have a personality dictated by the soil. It should have a sense of place”
It is quite romantic wandering through the kuipe tunnels, lit only by candlelight
As the other guests said, they must get through a lot of candles
We sat down to begin the tasting and began with the Philip Jonker Entheos MCC Brut,
made from a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, which spends up to 3 years on the lees
Bready on the nose, it has crisp apple and lemon zest on the sparkly palate, most enjoyable
Next, the Weltevrede 1912 Chardonnay from a single vineyard. We tasted the 2017 and the limestone terroir is very visible in this wine. Lots of fine minerality. It was fermented in French Oak barrels and has had no malolactic fermentation. Skin contact with batonage once a week. French oak matured for 6 months. It has golden fruit and some spice on the nose with butterscotch, pear, lemon, minerality and soft chalky tannins on the palate, with just a hint of wood
Philip wants these wines to be less showy but more elegant, show generosity of flavour and have complexity, which they do, and they are from unique sites. On the nose, the Place of Rocks 2018 reminded Lynne of a ripe cider apple orchard. It is full and round with crisp apple and lime flavours and dark wood. It is their most awarded wine, made in the Chablis style and is a wine we have bought several times in the past. Very clear oyster shell references to its terroir, a rock-filled vineyard
Next, we tasted the 2015 HardRock Cabernet Sauvignon, grown on shale. Rich red cassis berries, with hints of mushroom on the nose; it has lovely flavours of cassis with a little wildness and dark chocolate wood on the end. The Weltevrede 1912 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 has more minerality and is complex and sophisticated on the very French nose. Chalky grippy tannins, soft juicy cassis with depth and length, it is sappig (juicy) and shouts "Have me with food!"
The 2016 Bedrock Black Syrah from mineral bedrock terroir has sweet black cherry, berry fruit with spice and black pepper and long flavours, chalky tannins; another juicy wine. The Weltevrede 1912 Shiraz 2017 has it all and is, as Philip says, "the whole Pizza!" with savoury flavours and aromas of tomato, spicy sausage, good umami notes, cassis and some salty licorice drop, good chalky tannins with long flavours. A beautiful wine, so enjoyable and so versatile. It was a very fine tasting of some lovely wines
The wines we tasted
A wintry landscape. They are using the rocks and the hay bales to build a werf (yard) in front of the cellar
Next we were invited to degorge our own bottles of bubbly, another new experience for us
On the way in, you could taste olives, tapenade and olive oils from Ballini farm
The MCC has been riddled (turned) gently over several weeks until all the fermentation lees are in the neck
They have to be removed, so just the last 3 cm of wine in the bottle's neck is frozen before degorging
This is a pupitre in which the MCC bottles are turned and tilted until they stand on the crown caps
with which they have been temporarily sealed 
We now had to take an opener and quickly take the top off so that the ice cap shot out, taking all the detritus with it
Done! just a little fizz, but you have to move quickly and put in a small dose of wine to replace that which has been lost
Some of the dosage can be sugar to slightly sweeten the very dry bubbly to the cellarmaster's taste
And then you quickly apply a champagne cork using this interesting machine which compresses the large cork and squeezes it into the bottle. Then the muselet (that metal cap on the top) and its wire cage are put on to make sure the cork does not come out. The bubbly is under several atmospheres of pressure from the fermentation. And it needs to stay that way so that it retains its bubbles
Lynne getting rid of her ice cap
We are Well Satisfied at Weltevrede
We attached the labels, front and back, the foil and the neck label and the bottle was ours to keep
And a gold pen was used to personalise our own bottles
Enjoying the day at Weltevrede. Thank you Philip and all involved for giving us such a great experience with your special wines

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