This is the latest review of our wines from leading UK wine writer Tom Cannavan. Writing in his Wine Pages website, Tom tasted our wines in September. This is what he wrote.
Proud to let everyone know that our 2013 Chardonnay has been selected for this years Nederburg Auction on the 16th and 17th September. There will be 5 cases of this wine for sale at a reserve price of 900.00 South African Rand per case. This is one of the worlds 5 major wine auctions and this is the first time we have submitted a wine. Rigorous selection means that only the very best wines are chosen for the auction. Nederberg Auction Catalogue
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.
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!
BLOG BY HETTA
News from Riana and Hetta from our vineyard, November 2013.
Preparation for our 2014 harvest started in October 2012! At that time buds formed on the branches that were to carry the fruit for the 2013 harvest and, through the pruning that followed the harvest, during the winter of 2013, these two-bud spurs were left to develop and nurture the fruit for the 2014 harvest. This means that as early as last month, October 2013, nature was influencing the quality and quantity of the 2015 harvest. It was rainy, cloudy and humid – not ideal conditions, as it is a sunny period at this time that will contribute to a fruitful harvest. We’ll just have to wait and see what Mother Nature has in store for us. Our Pinot Noir grapes, the first to be harvested each year, are looking beautiful! The vines have started to flower along with the Chardonnay.
The Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc usually start flowering a little later.
I love the vineyards in spring, they have the most amazing green foliage.
As of the 1st of May 2013 our wines will now be available in Germany through a company called Starweine. From receiving an email on March 16th asking about our wines, to the wines going on sale, the process has been extremely encouraging. Dealing with owner Gebhard Fuess has been an absolute pleasure, someone who actually does what they say they are going to do. We are looking forward to an excellent and long lasting relationship with Gebhard and his team. Details of our wines and others on the site can be found on the link below.