2012: Impressions of the Vintage from our Viticulturist
“This harvest saw one of the best ripening periods in my experience.
2012 is without a doubt, a standout vintage – especially for the red wines.”Stephan Joubert, DGB Viticulturist
As vintages go, 2012 was a dream year in the Cape in terms of grape quality. Although drier than usual, a cool harvest with prolonged slow ripening and no problematic extremes set the tempo for a lengthy controlled crush, with fantastic balance and structure in both red and white wines.
DGB are fortunate to have longstanding close relationships with some 60 growers in key regions across the Cape winelands, and when the weather plays along producing top notch grapes in volume, our winemakers have all the ingredients to make great wines.
Hallmarks of the Growing Season
“We really listened to the vintage this year. We didn’t just do the same as previous years.”
The 2012 season began with some trepidation with a sufficiently cold, but drier than usual winter.
The already dry sub-soils were cause for concern in dry land vineyards with no irrigation and for growers with limited water supply. A cool spring and early summer with less wind than in previous years helped to minimise evaporation providing marginal moisture relief as the vines used less water. Some uneven flowering and berry set had to be managed and negated with green harvesting.
By mid December the vineyards were in great shape showing better growth than anticipated leading up to a hot January with a heat spike for four days in the middle of the month. Early indicators of the soaring temperatures allowed time for farmers to react and minimise heat damage. What could have been a hot and bothered harvest, took an amazing turn in early February as the heat broke and days became cooler than normal with regular cooling sea breezes in the afternoons. These amazing sustained conditions during the ripening period through March were nothing short of idyllic.
Picking began on 13th January 2012 with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for Boschendal bubbly and unfolded in a prolonged and slow harvest over the next 3 months. There was enough time to be selective and take time picking a healthy robust crop in most vineyards. The final grapes were received on 18th April 2012.
“I’m really excited. We couldn’t ask for better quality in the grapes this year.”
On the whole, both red and white varietals excelled, with text book ripeness at lower sugars translating into lower alcohols in the wines. Berries were healthy and smaller with great colour concentration in the red cultivars.
Elegant ‘European-centric’ red wines with amazing colour, freshness and purity of fruit are expected. Shiraz is the standout red cultivar with fantastic varietal expression and effortless tannins. Stellenbosch and Darling produced Pinotage with great flavour concentration and very promising potential.
Excellent white wines with good balance and varietal character are anticipated. Chenin Blanc was the star performer of the vintage with outstanding concentration and freshness, closely followed by outstanding Chardonnay, particularly from the cooler regions where perfect phenolic ripeness was achieved at lower sugars.