Amidst running back and forth between the vineyards, I caught up with Uitsig’s winemaker, Jacques Du Plessis, to get his thoughts on the 2017 harvest that’s merely days away…
Tell me about the 2017 vintage so far? How are the grapes in the vineyard doing?
Even though it’s been very dry, it only recently got hot. We had a gentle, cool Spring and enjoyed a slow build up to Summer. Added to this, the South Easter wind has been particularly hard at work cooling the vines for us. So even though it’s dry – it hasn’t been too hot and the wind has helped moderate the temperatures. I think the result will be that the flavours in the grapes will be really concentrated. Due to the mild Winter temperature though, we’ve had uneven bud bursts. I’m hoping this only contributes to a layered complexity in the wines we will be producing. All of these factors mean that our picking date is more crucial than ever.
When do you think the harvest will start?
This coming Monday – the 30th of January. We’ll start with our MCC (Chardonnay grapes, currently situated right next to the Cricket Oval). Then we’ll immediately move on to picking our Sauv Blanc. This year, it looks like all our blocks will be ready at similar times, which means a compact harvest for us. Avoiding the bottle neck in the winery will be important.
This will be Uitsig’s last harvest collaborating with Steenberg – how will next year be different?
For a number of years, we’ve made all our wine at Steenberg’s world-class winery. The quality of our wine is testament to the great collaboration between us two farms. We’ve learnt so much from the likes of John Loubser and JD Pretorius – for which we’re very grateful. Next year, our own winery will be ready and will allow us to process smaller lots of grapes. I’m really excited about this – it will enable us to have even more building blocks to work with in the wine.
How are our newly planted vineyards doing in this dry weather?
Very well, we’ve given them priority regarding water and they’re looking good – 4.5 hectares of Chardonnay and Shiraz slowly building up for our 2019 harvest.
Are there any new vines being planted this year?
Yes. We’ll be planting 1 hectare of Muscat de Frontignan. For the first time in Constantia Uitsig’s history, we want to create a natural sweet wine to celebrate the Constantia Valley’s incredible sweet wine heritage. This project is years in the making but it’s one I’m very excited about.
Out of all the Uitsig wines yet be released, which one are you most excited about releasing in the coming months?
Our Semillon 2015. It’s tasting beautifully.