With 80% of Spier’s harvest safely in the cellar, we catch up with Cellar Master Frans Smit about the 2019 vintage.
"The drought conditions we faced over the past four years have resulted in lower yields affecting most varietals." But despite this, Frans says, things are looking promising.
“The white wines have the most perfect analysis: beautiful sugars and great acidity (low pH). Analysis is not everything but it’s a really good parameter for me; I’m really excited about the quality of the vintage. The moderate temperature during January and February helped to maintain the high quality and, when I tasted the wines in the cellar, the results were excellent."
He adds: “I think we will remember this vintage for a very long time to come —especially with regards to the outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon— which makes this a great year for Creative Block 2, our blend of both. What I’ve tasted of this year’s Signature Chenin is also phenomenal.”
For red wines, yields were also lower, with the exception of Pinotage. Frans says the style of wine emerging amongst the reds is very interesting: they’re reflecting traits of cool-climate wines - fresh, crisp and elegant; even those from normally sweltering regions like Darling.
“We started picking earlier than usual, while the grape sugars were low,” he says. “The reds that have been picked — Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot — have a gorgeous, deep colour. They’re rich wines with a lot of freshness. The team is very happy.”
Weather conditions — cool and wet — have arrived unusually early this year. While those rain-clouds do increase the risk of botrytis (a fungus that thrives in wet weather and can damage grapes), they do have a silver lining: early rain means that cover crops can be planted sooner between the vines. With more time, the crops can grow much thicker than usual, boosting their effectiveness as a natural weed-control measure.