Sunday, March 21, 2010

A detailed 2010 Vilafonte Harvest Report by Zelma Long

The 2010 Cape Harvest was marked by three needs for success: (1) fine tuned wine growing; (2) fine tuned harvest and fermentation practices; (3) good luck - i.e. Mother Nature smiling…most of the time.
Vilafonte was fortunate in all regards. Contrary to many whose crop was devastated by bad weather in October and November; our site bloomed in a window of decent weather and yielded a normal crop; actually up slightly from 2009. Our normal crop fine tuning practices , culminating in veraison thinning, were more important than usual due to an extended bloom which yielded more variability in Cape vineyards in 2009.
Our grapes behaved distinctively this year. Of normal size (neither unusually large or small); our usual pre-harvest analysis showed excellent color and moderate tannin; ideal for the vintage. However, the grapes were reluctant to give up these characters to the wine…normally we see a quick color extraction, but in 2010 it was necessary to extend our extraction practices, carefully, so as to get out the available color without too much seed tannin. It was a delicate dance; of a type not seen in seen in the last several years. As a result our grapes had more time on the skins, although not post dryness extended maceration.
Cabernet Franc and Merlot were gorgeous - full of fruit; full of color; perfumed. Our young Malbec, now in its second year of yield, was predictably black/purple, with its floral/sage aromas and a racy body. The group came through fermentation higher in acid than normal (Vilafonte does not acidify its grapes or wine) and so in general are racy going into malo-lactic fermentation.
Cabernet Sauvignon was of a more sober style; quiet, inward turned, and in particular needing coaxing to release its goodies during fermentation.
Overall, our team leaned into the wind and produced the best vintage of many years, in terms of wine quality; vineyard performance, and logistics. Ours was a measured pace of attention to detail.


Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

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