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Harvest 2018: against all odds a sparkling year

General reports are that, against all expectations, harvest 2018 will be remembered as a year that ‘rose to the occasion’.

The winemaking team at Boschendal concurs that the scales tipped in favour of receipt, and not expectations: “In spite of the drought and associated predictions of a below average vintage, the year surprised us with high-quality grapes across the board. Grapes generally showed a higher skin-to-juice ratio, resulting in concentrated flavours and superior wines.”

Although the season was drier than usual, with some farms feeling the effect with lower yields, the drought wasn’t accompanied by heatwaves and the adverse impact on sugar accumulation. Grape bunches were average in size, but they had smaller berries, which necessitated gentler extraction in the cellar. Overall, this assisted the Boschendal team in their quest of making wines that are complex and well balanced, with lower alcohol levels reminiscent of Old World and classically styled wines.

Through the use of innovative smart irrigation systems and good water management, the viticultural team at Boschendal ensured a sufficient supply of water. This assured that grapes weren’t over-stressed and could deliver the high-quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir needed for the farm’s internationally awarded Methodé Cap Classique wines.

Danielle Jacobs, Assistant Winemaker at Boschendal, indicated that the estate’s reds are equally exciting: “we are thrilled with the assortment of red berry, blackcurrant, spice and ripe fruit smells in the red wine cellar. Particularly the red wines like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are showing beautiful, supple tannins, making them very approachable, and will be highly enjoyable wines in a few years’ time. Look out for this year, 2018, performing very well in the marketplace.”

Lizelle Gerber, who heads up the Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) and white wine production at Boschendal, said that the winery’s vines really “over-compensated” during the drought to produce “over-achieving grapes bursting with flavour”. Although consumers would have to wait at least three years to taste vintage cuvées from this harvest, Lizelle says MCC lovers will be rewarded with wines with exceptional ageing potential: “Boschendal’s advantage is that our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for Cap Classique production are sourced from established, mature vines that adapted remarkably well to challenging weather patterns. These vines delivered grapes with abundant fruit expression that will no doubt assist with flavour retention as the wines age.”  

To give the wines their signature freshness, harvesting of these unique grapes were done early in the harvest season. This ensured an excellent high acidity and low pH levels and picking the grapes in the early morning hours further ensured fruit purity and freshness.

The Boschendal Grand Cuvée Brut will be particularly rewarding, says Lizelle. Apart from the exceptional quality that 2018 delivered, this sparkling wine also represents hope, and the fact that there is always reason to celebrate: “They say every cloud has a silver lining, but in this instance, the drought has a sparkling ending.”