De Wetshof Estate introduces its first premium blended red wine
De Wetshof Estate, South Africa’s renowned and pioneering Chardonnay producer, recently introduced its first premium blended red wine. In so doing the estate has also paid tribute to one of the most influential architects in the history of the Cape, whose classical style has left an enduring legacy on local architecture.
The wine – Thibault 2009 – consists mainly of Merlot with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon and is named after Louis Michel Thibault, the famous French architect who designed many of the magnificent Cape buildings during the 18th and 19th century. The De Wetshof Estate’s main building is based on Thibault’s famous Koopmans-De Wet House in Cape Town, while the winery’s design is also modelled on one of the architect’s drawings.
According to De Wetshof winemaker Peter de Wet, the inspiration for this Bordeaux-style wine was combining two of the world’s great classical red cultivars in order to create a truly elegant, yet powerful wine with individuality.
“The soil, sunshine, and aspect of De Wetshof allow the wine to exhibit a freshness, bright red fruit and a delicate plushness,” says de Wet, who has accumulated extensive experience from winemaking stints in Bordeaux and the US Napa Valley.
“Typical Merlot and Cabernet characteristics lie at the core of this wine. Intense dark berries, bittersweet chocolate en pencil shavings abound, while palate weight, depth of presence and a lingering finish further enhance the drinking experience.”
The grapes are picked early, in the cool morning hours, with the emphasis on capturing powerful fruit at a full-ripe stage when developed flavours of pure dark berry fruit prevail alongside soft and juicy tannins. These are the characteristics needed to create a wine with structure, elegance and depth.
After destemming, the grapes are cooled down and moved to a tank for a few days of cold soaking on the skins before fermentation starts. The wine ferments dry on the skins, after which the young wines are racked and pressed. It is then moved into French oak barrels which have been personally selected by the French cooper Christian Radoux. The fine French oak enhances the fresh fruity aromas and flavours as the wines go through malolactic fermentation.
After malolactic fermentation the wines are racked off the lees into fresh barrels for further maturation and complexity. Finally, about 18 months after harvest, the different wine components are blended together and prepared for bottling.
Marketing manager Johann de Wet explains that the Thibault was an inevitable addition to the De Wetshof wine portfolio. “De Wetshof’s heritage and reputation have been built on Chardonnay, and we will always remain a foremost producer of this cultivar. However, this does not mean that we can neglect the other gems on our farm, and the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard blocks have yielded fruit of outstanding quality in the last few years.
Such quality truly warrants the special treatment and care reserved for the production of a premium red blend. We are confident that the Thibault will prove a welcome addition to South Africa’s spectrum of quality Bordeaux-style blends.”
The Thibault 2009 retails for R250.