We have just had a whole page devoted to Seven Springs Vineyard in the November edition of Decanter Magazine. The whole article is entitled “Buying a Vineyard” but we guess in our case it could have been entitled “Buying a piece of land with cattle roaming on it”….but we guess that might not be a too appealing headline. This is the article as it appears in the magazine.
This vintage kicked off with hot and humid days and kept the viticulturists on their toes everyday. November saw flooding, with thunder showers and humid conditions. The winds that are a usual occurrence on the farm in November, and one that keeps the mildews in check, only started up in December. This meant a high disease pressure and a season that would see more work and effort in the vineyard then previous years.
Hot and windy days in December, reduced humidity levels with resulting reduction in mildew in the vineyards and we were very lucky that the pressure on the vineyard was quite low, thanks to our viticulturist, Peter Davison, and his vineyard team. The better the vineyard and its management, the better the grapes andthe better the wines. All the vineyards flowered nicely with good fruit set, and with hot and sunny days the perfect conditions were perfect for young ripening grapes.
Just after new Years we saw the first signs of veraison in the Pinot Noir block, planted in 2008 and now going into its 4th, fruit-baring vintage. Still considered young vines, I did see a definite change in the vineyards and more so in the eventual wines made, maturing in barrel currently.
Veraison is a French term for when a grape will start to turn colour, from green to translucent, if Sauvignon Blanc, or purple if Shiraz. The Pinot Noir is the first variety on the farm to turn colour and the Chardonnay follows a week or so later. Two weeks after the Chardonnay the Sauvignon Blanc starts and the last one to go through veraisonis the Syrah, a week or so after the Sauvignon Blanc. Complete veraison, when the whole bunch has turned colour, can take from one to three weeks. After veraison is complete it will be yet another 40 days or so before harvest will begin, but that all depends on the style of the wine the winemaker is working towards.
2014 Harvest kicked off for us on 13th February, picking the Pinot Noir first. We picked over 3 days to ensure optimum ripeness for our style of wine. For the past 4 vintages we have been processing our fruit in Grabouw at Almenkerk. So once the fruit is picked we transport the grapes to the cellar. Because we have to transport the fruit to the winery it is very important to only harvest the best fruit, and a great deal of care is taken during harvest to ensure any and all rotten berries or green berries are removed. This also ensures that the bad fruit doesn’t travel with the good fruit and makes the work at the winery far easier, making the second sorting to eliminate any remaining bad fruit very straightforward.
2014 was our biggest vintage yet, which saw us harvest and vinify just over 70 tons of grapes. Our production includes a range of 5 wines, Pinot noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Unoaked Chardonnay. Our last day of picking was on the 14th of March, making our vintage just a month long and finishing quite early. The reason for this is that our varieties planted on the farm are all early to middle season ripening varieties.
The 2014 vintage of wines are truly, to my eyes, our best yet. The vineyards are showing real maturity and gaining balance every year. The Pinot Noir, in barrel currently, is showing promising red and black currents and cherries, hints of forest floor and showing more terroir character than vintages past.
The Sauvignon Blanc is a delight to the senses. It holds true to the style of Seven Springs and rewards you with aromas of natural vegetation (fynbos) and green apple. It has been spending the past months on the lees, in stainless steel tank, and is destined to be bottled in the coming months. So too is the Unoaked Chardonnay, made in a similar style to our Sauvignon Blanc, however the variety shows different aromatics and palate to its sister. The Unoaked Chardonnay is lighter in alcohol, at 12.5%, and a fresh wine with aromas of limes and orange blossoms.
The Chardonnay, which spends 11 months in used, 300L barrels is quite different from the Unoaked version. Fermented naturally in barrel and left on the lees, but stirred every two weeks for the first few months, to bring about the desired creamy palate. This Chardonnay isn’t the usual style of wooded white, it remains fresh and vibrant, with the oak offering a fuller and richer palate but definitely not overwhelming the natural fruit of the variety.
The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir spend a few more months in barrel, maturing and will be bottled in January of next year, before the start of the new vintage.
The final wine, the Syrah, was harvested, to my delight, with no heat wave breaking, but actually just ahead of a cold front, that would drench the valley again. The first portion of the Syrah was picked on the 12th of March and the remainder, the two clones SH9C and SH21K, were picked on the 14th of March. The clones mentioned in the latter have a more spicy and smoky profile than the grapes harvested on the 12th and as such were fermented separately and with 100% of the stems added back into the fermentation tank.
Adding the stems back into to the fermenting grapes is not a common practice, but it is a well known one. Only stems that have lignified (gone yellow) are added back and these were carefully picked out of the stems coming out of the crusher. A tedious job, but one that is definitely worth it, when it aids in the colour and structure of the wine.
The Syrah is still very young, but shows a lot of promise as this was truly the year I was most happy with the grapes. I have been fortunate to grow as a winemaker with these vines. I’ve had the opportunity to see them mature from 2.5 year old vines to now, at 7 years, and to see the wonders they offer, now and in the future.
Spring is in the air and the Pinot and Chardonnay has already budded, so the game is on, and harvest is but 5 months off.
Deep rich red / purple in the glass, this wine reflects the bright fruit flavours of mulberry and blueberry. Its perfume of smoky spices, pepper and woodland undertones, gives way to a well-structured palate, sumptuous, full of flavour with a smooth decadent, lingering dark chocolate finish. A great match with and beef, venison and spiced lamb dishes, blue cheese and even dark chocolate pots.
Decanter World Wines Award: Gold 2014
Residual Sugar: 2.7 g/l
Total Acidity: 6.3 g/l
Harvested by hand on 5th, 7th and 9th March 2012
Total production: 10,740 bottles (750ml)
Bottled: September 2013
Ageing potential: 10-12 years
Harvested on 3 different days, picking at optimum ripeness, the fruit was transported to the winery, processed and transferred to stainless steel tanks. Dry ice was added to the fruit processed on 5th and 7th to slow down oxidation and help keep the fruit cool. It was then left to ‘cold soak’ for two days by which time the juice had taken on an intense purple colour and aromas of blackcurrent and mint. The wine was fermented in the tanks, with twice daily pump-overs to aerate the wine and supply oxygen to the yeast. The wine was then moved to 2nd and 3rd fill French oak barrels and left to mature for 15 months.
The fruit processed on the 9th was put in a separate tank as whole bunches. It did not undergo ‘cold-soak’. The must was inoculated and left to ferment dry, after which the wine was left on the skins for a few days, giving extended skin contact. It was pressed and put into barrel to age, with blending in early 2013.
The Syrah vines were planted in 2007 on the north facing slope at 240 meters elevation. Syrah is known for its spicy and smoky flavours coming from the oak barrels and the clones selected. Clones SH1C and SH21K give the resulting wine a berry profile with spicy undertones. Clone SH9C also gives a smoky and spicy profile but given that it is used in only a small part of the Syrah vineyard, (with only 1.3 tons of the total 15 tons -10%) it has a big impact on the whole production. This clone is also part of the selection for the magnums to be released in late 2015.
Seven Springs Syrah was excellent in the previous 2010 vintage, but I confess that this Gold Medal winner is even better and is a hugely promising portent as the vines age. Deep and vibrant in colour, the nose is just gorgeous, the wisp of cracked stone, the slick of black fruit and the background of flowers – violet creams even – white pepper and gentle earthiness. The palate is flooded with ripe, silky black fruit, but not at all jammy or overblown. Despite 14.5% alcohol, this has genuine freshness with a crispness to the tannin and acid framework, and the pin-point precision of the black fruit pushing through in a finely-tuned finish.
Nathan (Nate) Nolan reviews our 2010 Syrah and Chardonnay and our 2011 Unoaked Chardonnay in this YouTube video. We sent Canadian Nate our wines a couple of years ago and he decided to keep the wines before reviewing them to see how they age. This is Nate’s video and we think he has made a pretty good job (well very good job) of describing our wines. Our Overberg wines have shown real character from day one and Nate certainly seems to like our wines . Take it away ‘Mr Drink n Eat’……..
Read below what Tom wrote about our wines in his Wine Pages website https://wine-pages.com/tasting-articles/seven-springs-overberg/
Seven Springs, South Africa
by Tom Cannavan, 09/17
I have reviewed the Seven Springs range a couple of time previously, ever since meeting English owners Tim and Vaughan Pearson back in 2008. That was just as they were about to release their first ever wines from a ‘labour of love’ project in South Africa’s Overberg region, close to the town of Hermanus. Tim’s early career was as an agronomist, but he and Vaughan built a successful contract cleaning business in the UK (which they still run), which allowed them to follow this dream.
They found the perfect spot in 2006, virgin land which was cleared and planted to vine over the following years. Now, a decade on, those first vineyards are reaching maturity, this relatively cool, coastal-influenced area suited to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for white wines, Pinot Noir and Syrah for reds. With them since first plantings are Vineyard Manager Peter Davidson, and since 2010, the increasingly recognised talents of winemaker Riana van der Merwe, with experience not only in here native South Africa, but in Oregon, California and the Rhône.
The quality and the intelligent, classy and quite European-styled nature of this whole portfolio continues to impress. Taste for yourself at my London Festival of Wine on October 14th 2017 where Tim and Vaughan will be pouring their wines.
Seven Springs Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – Scores 91/100
Seven Springs Vineyard, Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 – Scores 89/100
Not the most expensive wine in the Seven Springs line-up, but you know I really enjoyed this. Only 12.5% alcohol, but crammed with flavour and a lovely creamy texture too, it flirts between nectarine sweet juiciness and the zest of fresh squeezed lemon, and slipped down very easily indeed with chicken in a garlicky, lime and ginger-spiced marinade.
Seven Springs Vineyard, Chardonnay 2014 – Scores 90/100 Seven Springs has come a long way in a short time, including scooping a ‘silver’ in the Decanter World Wine Awards for this wine. Aged in 300-litre barrels for a year, it has toast and vanilla, but the cool harvest has also created a touch of green – fig and greengage – that gives lovely tension and aromatic complexity, the wild yeast ferment adding a savoury aspect. In the mouth it has bold, fresh acidity to offset the ripe stone fruits, teetering on tropical, but drier and more restrained as it finishes with fine clarity.
Seven Springs Vineyard, Young Vines Pinot Noir 2013 – Scores 89/100
There’s a delightful subtlety to the way the oak has been handled here, adding sheen and gentle creaminess to the ripe, supple fruit, a hint of Pinot truffle and briar. In the mouth nicely fresh and agile, a spine of acidity, a touch of oak chariness, and the savoury fruit and spice finishing quite long.
Seven Springs Vineyard, Syrah 2013 – Scores 91/100
Always one of my favourites in the Seven Springs range, this powerful 14% Syrah has youthful exuberance to spare, with a bold, ripe black fruit aroma, underpinned by notes of chocolate and tobacco, but there’s a hint of violet lift in there too. Smooth and creamy on the palate, the weight of that fleshy berry and plum fruit is there, tight, fine tannins and juicy acids completing a deliciously easy-drinking yet quite structured young wine that will cellar for a few years.
We are proud to announce that we achieved three excellent awards from the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards. Having decided to enter our Syrah 2012 and our two Chardonnays (oaked 2011 and un-oaked 2012) we were absolutely delighted with getting a GOLD award for our 2012 Syrah and BRONZE for the two Chardonnays. To put this into context it is like winning a medal in the Olympic Games, well in wine terms. As our vines are still very young (the syrah and chardonnay vines were 4.5 years old when the grapes were picked) we are really ‘over the moon’ with the way our vineyard and wines are developing. Testimony for this goes to Riana van der Merwe, our young winemaker, and Peter Davison, our vineyard manager. It is the hard work and dedication of the two of them that has enabled us to achieve this is such a short space of time.
SEVEN SPRINGS SYRAH 2012 and OVER THE MOUNTAIN SYRAH 2012 – DECANTER WORLD WINE AWARDS GOLD http://www.decanter.com/dwwa/wine/713/Seven+Springs-Syrah-2012 The Decanter description for this wine reads:-
“Has opened up nicely to show lovely ripe blueberry fruits with some violets and spice. Lovely fleshy style but with substance, black fruits, fine grained tannins and very well balanced. Has surprising length. I think could develop a lot further still.”
SEVEN SPRINGS CHARDONNAY 2011 AND OVER THE MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2011
The Decanter description of this wine reads:-
“A rounded, smooth style with a good tropical fruit character. Toffee notes and a touch of burnt match, but with good elegance and a medium finish.”
SEVEN SPRINGS UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2012 and OVER THE MOUNTAIN UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2012
The Decanter description of this wine reads:-
“Leaner style drive of mineral, struck match and crisp apple acidity. Concentrated but understated with lovely ripe citrus, tangerine and lemon zest. Fresh and lively.”
We have been very busy here at Seven Springs and it doesn’t look like the sudden winter here in the Overberg is going to slow us down. If you thought it was still Autumn, well guess again. The leaves might be golden, but the mountain tops are getting their first dusting of powdery white snow.
Recently we had a promotion at a local Italian restaurant, Fabio’s Ristorante, with great success. As part of celebrating the success of the promotion, but also to thank the team at Fabio’s we had a lovely tasting on the farm, even though it was windy.
What a great team and great support from the local community in Hermanus. They are the only authenic Italian restaurant in Hermanus and should be on your list of places to dine, have a look on http://www.fabios.co.za/. Who knows, maybe you can enjoy a glass of Seven Springs when you are there!
We have also been very busy marketing our wines in the Overberg with Swellendam the newest area you can find our wines. Schoone Oordt, a five star guesthouse serving our Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir to their patrons. With a great team of people involved in the guesthouse, Swellendam and Schoone Oordt ( http://www.schooneoordt.co.za) is a real gem and worth spending the night if you ever feel like being treated like instant family. Our wines are also for sale at De Keldermeister in town and on your way to Swellendam you can stop in Riviersonderend and buy our wines at The Wine Rack.
This week we had our annual Tradeshow with distrubutor Siris Vintners – Siris About Wine. This year the show went underground with the event taking place in the basement of the Upper East Side Hotel, creating an intimate tasting environment where it felt like you were in a barrel cave. Trade and wineries could connect and talk about all things wine. All-in-all a very enjoyable event and successful to boot. We also got to show off the fact that our 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay and 2011 Oaked Chardonnay both won a Bronze Medal at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Harvest report to follow soon. It was a tough 2014 vintage and I think I’m still recovering like most viticulurists and winemakers in South Africa. Also be on the look out for upcoming news on the building of our own winery and tasting room on the farm. 2014 is a big year for us and it is all thanks to our local and global support, so thank you to you all.
Some came in high heels,
another with a hat,
one wore a tie,
another brought a cat!
Seven Springs Vineyards have had a wonderful 2013 and wished to end the year with special friends, good food and great wine. The great wine of course was our Pinot Noir ‘Young Vines II’ 2012 and Sauvignon Blanc 2012. We welcomed our friends on the ‘stoep’ with some chilled Pongracz Rose and 7Springs Sauvignon Blanc 2012 served with our very own 2013 Frantoio Olive Oil and homemade Chicken liver pate on toasted Ciabatta.
Chicken Liver Pate
500g Chicken livers
2 Onions finely chopped
1 Garlic glove
1 Medium lemon (juice)
Dash of Balsamic vinegar
Dash of Brandy
Mayonnaise (I love adding a spoon or two)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Clean the livers and sprinkle with juice of one lemon. Fry the onions, add livers and fry ’till cooked. Add garlic and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Let cool adding brandy, salt & pepper to taste. Put in food-processor and blend until smooth. You can add some mayonnaise, if desired. Enjoy with Ciabatta or seed bread.
A TABLE READY FOR A FEAST
Our first main course was roasted Smoked Pork with roasted potatoes with a rocket & mango asian salad. Paired with Pinot Noir 2012.
Our second main course came in 2 shapes and sizes, two very different curries. The Pinot Noir 2012 was paired with a mild Malay apricot curry, served in a hollowed out homemade bread. The Sauvignon Blanc 2012 was paired with a Thai Green Curry on fragrant rice.
300 gr Chicken, cubed
30 ml vegetable oil
1 onion cut into 8 wedges
2 peppers, diced
2 cloves garlic
400 g baby marrows, diced
5cm knob ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
60ml Thai green curry paste, adjust to taste
1 can (400g) coconut milk
180 ml vegetable stock
4-6 dried lime leaves or grated peel of 1 lime (optional)
150 g baby spinach
juice of 2 limes
30 ml fish sauce or light soya sauce
fresh basil and coriander
Saute the onions, peppers, baby marrows, garlic, lemongrass, ginger and curry paste in the vegetable oil until soft. Add chicken, coconut milk, stock and lime leaves and let simmer until cooked through. Stir through baby spinach, lime juice, fish sauce and herbs and serve with steamed rice.
For the finale we had Tiramisu with dark chocolate trellising, made from melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder.
big, medium and small!
We wish you a very Merry Christmas
and may 2014 be a healthy and prosperous year for you!
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