De Wetshof Flies Flag for Robertson Pinot Noir with National Terroir Award
The De Wetshof Estate in Robertson might be best known for Chardonnay, but its interpretation of the red Burgundian variety Pinot Noir is growing in stature. The De Wetshof Nature in Concert Pinot Noir 2017 was crowned National Pinot Noir Champion in this year’s Novare Terroir Awards, a competition committed to awarding wines showing focussed expressions of terroir and site.
According to Johann de Wet, CEO of De Wetshof, this award underscores the estate’s ethos of producing varietal wines offering a character showcasing the specific site from where the grapes originate.
“Like our various Chardonnays, the Pinot Noir vineyard is planted on a terrain especially selected for this variety,” he says. “The site lies on a steep slope, south-facing and with the vines rooted in gravel soil, rich in limestone. Its position ensures exposure to the southerly winds from the Indian Ocean some 90km away. Computerised moisture monitoring of the soil ensures judiciously controlled irrigation aimed at even ripening, flavour and colour concentration and complete fruit expression.”
De Wetshof’s first Nature in Concert Pinot Noir was released from the 2002 vintage, and from the outset found a ready market due to its approachability, fruit-driven profile and juicy character.
“I would say that since the 2009 vintage, this wine has really started to get Pinot-lovers sitting-up and noticing the potential De Wetshof’s Robertson address has for producing serious Pinot Noir,” he says. “As the vineyards have aged and are now reaching a more complete symbiotic relationship with their soils, aspect and the surrounding climate, the wines are reaching a next level. There is more complexity, more of that magical combination of spice, berry-fruit and forest floor that makes Pinot Noir such an alluring grape variety.”
After harvesting and crushing the juice was cold soaked and given skin contact for eight days to ensure delicate extraction of the myriad flavours. Thereafter the wine was fermented dry on the skins, with malolactic fermentation done in small French Oak barrels. The wine was then left to mature in new and second-fill French oak for 12 months before bottling.
“This simple and unfettered approach to making our Pinot Noir makes this Novare Terroir Award especially important for us,” says Johann. “The end-result is – as with the great Pinot Noirs – about the site-specific expression in the wine and not about wine-making and the pursuit of style or trend. And that is Pinot Noir – if you have the right fruit, keep it simple and you will be rewarded.”