The foremost feature of the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley appellation is the outcrop of weathered Granite soil that is exclusive in the Cape South Coast. This iron rich granite is found in diverse size and texture due to the various stages of cooling when the magma formed this parent rock. GRANUM is grown exclusively on sites of higher density plantings and Echalas–trained (vine trained on its own wooden stake) vines of Syrah and Mourvèdre. The most rugged of these are found at the very bottom of the Newton Johnson farm. Granite soil is known to bear fresh, precise and aromatic wines and is a perfect match for these varieties. After a few years in the pipeline, we took the decision to release the first edition of this estate red from the very worthy 2012 vintage. It carries our own typical approach of soft handling in the cellar and a generous use of whole bunches and stems to mark definition and length.
LOCATION & CLIMATE
The Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley ranges from 4 to 8 km in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The climate is cool and temperate, where parallel mountain ranges channel the southerly oceangoing winds through the appellation during the summer.
These winds in turn breathe regular sea mists and overcast conditions, moderating the temperatures in the valley. The average high temperature during the summer taken from the preceding 5 vintages is 24.8ºC. Correspondingly, the winter maintains around the mean average of 13.6ºC. The annual rainfall is 820mm, with 50% falling in the winter months. The appellation has fine, gravelly soils of decomposed granite origin, rendering various expanses and depth of clay in the subsoil.
WINEMAKERS TASTING NOTES
2014 is quite an open vintage, generous with fruit, and needs to settle a while for the linear aspects to gain definition. The initial whiffs of soft, intimate and slightly unripe aromas of saffron together with that of sharp, dry caraway seeds bring lift to the nose. Behind is a solid core of blackberry and freshly turned earth. The dryness, tannic feel and potency of cacao beans are felt at the front of the palate, moving to a large pan of sweet, juicy liquorice in the middle. Acidity tingles the sides of the tongue towards the back then straightens the flavours to a dry finish.
APPELLATION: Wine of Origin UPPER HEMEL-EN-AARDE VALLEY
SOIL: Decomposed, porphyritic granite. 2 metres of 80% stone over clay subsoil
ASPECT: North West
TRELISSING SYSTEM: Echalas and Goblet (bushvine)
AGE OF VINES: 9 years
PRUNING: Echalas and Goblet (bushvine)
VINES PER HA: 5112
AVERAGE YIELD: 2 – 3.6 tons/Ha (13 – 23 hl/Ha)
ANALYSIS: Alcohol by volume 14.33 %, Total Acidity 5.7 g/l, pH 3.61, Residual sugar 2.3 g/l BLENDED VARIETIES: 77% | Syrah 23% | Mourvèdre
All our fruit is harvested by hand and packed in to large-surface area crates (13kg).The day’s harvest is cooled down overnight to 8ºC in the winery’s refrigerated cold room. The bunches are sorted on a conveyor, destemmed (partially), and fall directly to the fermenter. All parcels are fermented with a discretionary percentage of whole bunches together with their stems. Cold maceration ensues for 3 to 6 days at 8 to 10°C. All parcels are fermented with indigenous yeasts, and only pigeage (punching down) applied for extraction. The fermentation temperatures peak between 26 and 30°C, depending on the vineyard. After pressing the wine is racked and left to complete its malolactic ‘fermentation’ and maturation in oak barrels.
100% matured for 12 months in barriques (228L barrels) and larger format casks (500L) made in Burgundy. The barrels are custom made for these vineyards. In general, tighter grained oak is preferred for more subtle flavour, with longer seasoning and slower toasting. New oak comprises 20%, 2ndfill 34%, 3rdfill 17% and other 29%.