“These dry weather conditions means the berries have ripened faster than usual,” he says. Less water has also meant they are smaller, with a higher concentration and are in a healthy state (too much rain can lead to fungal diseases, for example).
Yesterday, Pinot Noir grapes for Spier’s Signature Methodé Cap Classique were picked. Smit says the berries are showing great phenolic ripeness.
And, amongst other red varietals, he says, “The grapes I’ve seen are showing a lot of colour, which is a good indication of quality, and a lot of fruit,” he says.
Things are looking good for white grapes too. Although harvesting of Sauvignon Blanc is still to begin, he can already pick up a greater emphasis of tropical flavours than green, herbaceous ones in the grapes he’s sampled.
“This means that the 2015 vintage will be more tropical and ripe than last year,” he says. To avoid losing to many of the green flavours, the grapes will also be harvested earlier than last year.
Spier’s winery is well equipped to meet the arrival of this year’s harvest – new cooling equipment and settling tanks have been installed so there is more capacity than before.
Smit is excited about the first organically certified harvest of grapes that have been grown on Spier land. At this stage three estate wines (using only grapes that have been grown on the farm itself, as opposed to other farms) are planned. First to be harvested is the Shiraz which will go into a serious, complex rosé that will be fermented naturally in old barrels. There will also be sweet straw wine made with Chenin Blanc and a red blend. The estate wines will be crafted in the new Werf winery, adjoining the newly restored historic Werf, that becomes operational in mid-February. Smit is excited about being intimately involved in the process. “Natural wine is a complete learning curve for me,” he says. “Our aim is to make really good stuff in a simple and natural way.”
This is just the beginning. Next week, harvesting begins on Chardonnay grapes and Pinot Gris (the first time the farm is harvesting the latter), and more Pinot Noir (this time for rosé).
In the area?
Stop by to meet our team at our stall at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival, which will be held on the Coetzenburg Sports Fields in Stellenbosch from 30 January to 1 February.