2021 RED HARVEST REPORT (CHAPTER 2)
By our viticulturist and winemaker. – Megan van der Merwe.
At the time of our last catch-up we were about a quarter of the way done with our harvest season and had just completed the picking of our white varieties. Now, two months later, with malolactic fermentations slowly ticking away and our soils coming alive with germinating seedlings, we can take a step back and reflect on the season as a whole.
As turbulent as current times, 2021 was strange and unpredictable. An unsettled environment provided many days where we experienced all four seasons concurrently – forcing us to take a step outside our comfort zone. Luckily, we love a challenge, and believe that overcoming them is what makes a vintage meaningful.
We picked our first red grapes on 18 March, slightly later than last year, 118 days after flowering. The summer period was moderate, usually meaning longer hang time and optimal physiological ripeness at the time of picking. However, this year, things were a little bit different. After a cool February we entered March on the back of a few heat spikes, quickly causing a jump in sugars amongst the happily hanging Bordeaux red grapes. Up to that point our biggest challenge was to practice patience. Once morning mist and high levels of humidity followed, we started preparing for worst case scenario, and by the first downpour of 55mm in the second week of March that challenge quickly changed to practicing the art of remaining calm.
Zen, yet completely submissive to the forces that govern the ripening of our grapes, we recorded another 28mm of rain in week three, and in week 4 we had to carefully sample, taste and wait for all of that water to escape. We paid close attention to our vines, opened our canopies to the ferocious Cape Winds, meticulously sorted fruit in the vineyards and cellar, picked in small batches and even co-fermented varieties. On average, sugar levels were about 2 degrees Balling lower than in 2020 at full phenolic ripeness, meaning we’ll achieve lower alcohols and higher natural acidities for 2021.
Picking concluded with our last bit of Petit Verdot on 14 April and the final tank was pressed on 6 May. Intensive viticulture in pursuit of even ripening delivered an overall yield of 3.58 tons/ ha, 1.68tons/ ha less than the prior year, though crucial in fulfilling our primary promise:
Zero compromise to quality.