Monday, May 25, 2009

Comments on 2009 Vilafonte Harvest - Zelma Long

Overview:
From the Vilafonte perspective, 2009 was an exceptionally fine vintage, yielding beautiful fruit, harvested in perfect condition, with exceptional color and flavor intensity, characteristics which easily carried through into the wines. For example, our Merlot may well be the finest in structure, balance and flavors that I have worked with, anywhere. Our good fortune was that our harvest was complete before a siege of hot weather hit the later harvested red varieties, and we were shielded by mountains from the fires that burned around Stellenbosch to Somerset West. This was a harvest to celebrate!

The weather: The simplest description for the ripening weather, through to our final harvest, was: “consistent, and mild”. It is not unusual for the Cape to experience weeks of warm weather in December, January, or February, but in 2009 our Vilafonte site did not see high peak temperatures. Our harvest timing was fortunate to occur during the mild weather in February; slightly earlier than we had expected, discussed below.

The vineyard: Vilafonte vineyard was in excellent condition going into, throughout, and for weeks after harvest. The vines showed a healthy green and maintained good water status. As a result of the mild weather, the grapes ripened without the hesitation that is caused by hot weather that delays photosynthesis and sugar accumulation; 2009 mild weather gave a very efficient ripening curve.

The harvest: This 2009 weather pattern produced fruit with lovely acid balance from vines with normal but not excessive stress…beautiful grapes, small but not tiny; deeply colored with fresh, lively flavors. Our crop was modest, neither excessive nor tiny. Both total and extractable anthocyanins (color) were quite high; but tannins were ripe and appropriate for the respective Bordeaux varieties. Harvest started February 5 with Merlot, and Malbec followed immediately. Our Vilafonte estate harvest was completed with the last Cabernet harvest on March 2.
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