Many a moon and many a tide ago in a beautiful little enclave near the sea, the breezes off the ocean made a pact. Every afternoon at an appointed time, they would chase the clouds high, high up to the peak of a nearby mountain and set them dancing and swirling, churning and whirling in a spectacle too wondrous to describe.
It is thanks to this amazing ‘thermal vortex’ – a fanlike cooling effect off the Babylonstoren Mountain – that Creation’s Pinot Noir vineyards thrive on the slopes below, slowly ripening their fruit to flavourful, well-balanced perfection.
When in 2002 the Swiss-born Jean-Claude (JC) Martin and his South African-born wife, Carolyn took up the challenge of establishing a winery in a remote corner of Walker Bay, South Africa, they did so with the courage of their conviction. The land had never been planted to vines before; however being a qualified viticulturist as well as a winemaker, JC recognised the potential, especially for the cultivation of top quality Pinot Noir.
Creation’s unique setting on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge combines close proximity to the cold Atlantic Ocean (only 9 km away) with an elevation of 300 m above sea level. The average day temperature during the growth period is between 22° and 26° C with the cool night index being 12° C less than midday. The average mean temperature during the growth period in February this year was 20.01° C and on average there is a maximum of five days that the temperature is over 30° C. Thanks to these cool conditions the grapes ripen gradually, evenly and fully, resulting in elegant fruit flavours balanced by crisp acidity and subtle, silky tannins.
Another plus factor is the estate’s 450-million-year-old clay derived Bokkeveld shale soils. According to JC Pinot Noir prefers a clay-type soil as it contributes to the structure of the wine. To which he adds: “Our soils also contain minerals beneficial to the pH levels of the wine and have good water retention, implying that we seldom need to irrigate once the young vines have settled.”
Having meticulously considered aspect, soil and row direction, JC had the foresight to select only virus-free clones (Dijon 115 and 777) for their suitability to the terroir. His vines were the first virus-free mother blocks to be planted post-apartheid in South Africa (during the apartheid years virus-free vines were hard to access) and these healthy vines yield fruit of exceptional quality. The Pinot vineyards are planted on eastern and western slopes with each site expressing itself in its own stylistic way. “Some of these sites have more shale, which may stress the plant more, but we like it when the plant struggles a bit because it means slightly smaller berries with a higher percentage of flavour-rich skin to juice,” remarks JC.
JC’s winemaking philosophy is based on ‘enhancing the beauty of nature’. To quote: “When you are harvesting quality fruit it is not necessary to manipulate the wine. Rather guide it gently through the winemaking process so as to preserve the sense of place.” To which he adds: “Winemaking is a delicate art requiring restraint to capture the inherent nuances.”
Creation’s wine portfolio – every bottle carries the SA Wine and Spirit Board seal for Integrity and Sustainability – reflects this philosophy and includes three multiple award-winning Pinot Noir wines.
Creation Pinot Noir
The intensely fragrant bouquet shows a mélange of red berry aromas, elegant vanilla and a whiff of wood spice. These follow through on the full-bodied palate where soft, supple tannins contribute to the dense structure.
Recent accolades include Platinum at the 2016 South African Wine Index (SAWi) Awards, a Gold Medal at the 2016 Mondial des Pinots for the 2015 vintage and inclusion of the 2015 vintage in the prestigious Top 100 SA Wines list for 2016.
Creation Reserve Pinot Noir
This is a limited production, site-specific wine from a low yielding block. It displays multiple layers of rose petal, dried apricot, cherry and spice on the nose. The luxurious, silky palate is in harmony, also offering deep tones of liquorice on the lingering aftertaste.
Recent accolades include Platinum at the 2016 South African Wine Index (SAWi) Awards and allocations of 91 by Tim Atkin, MW and 95 by Greg Sherwood, MW for the 2015 vintage. The latter described the wine as “fantastically good”.
Art of Creation Pinot Noir
The wines in the single-vineyard Art of Creation range are made to be the ultimate expression of terroir. The grapes for the Art of Pinot Noir are usually the first Pinot to be picked on the estate. The wine is 30% whole bunch fermented and only available in limited quantities with each bottle individually numbered. The wine rewards with aromas of rose petal, dark cherry, pimento and anise. On the complex palate layers of cherry and plum mingle with earthy flavours of mushroom and an elegant sprinkling of spice.
Among the recent accolades is an allocation of 95 points for the 2015 vintage by Tim Atkin, MW.
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