Amidst the hustle and bustle of harvest activities, this past week saw the Creation cellar team beaming with pleasure as they received three tons of old-vine Chenin Blanc from Windmeul Kelder in Paarl. The significance of this rather unusual event is that it heralds Creation’s participation in South Africa’s unique Old Vine Project (OVP). Click here to read more about it.
Although the drive to compile a definitive list of South Africa’s old vines has been underway since 2002, it was only in 2016 that the OVP was officially founded. It strives to preserve vines older than 35 years and to create awareness of the heritage of these old vines. To quote from the OVP website: “Old vines make wines that reflect the earth and the terroir they grow in. They reflect the scorching summers and the long icy cold rainy Cape winter days they have endured over decades. They exist because of the people who touched and tended them over many years.”
According to the OVP there are some 10 vineyards in South Africa older than 100 years. Do older vines yield better wines? Recent research (November 2018) conducted at Stellenbosch University into the sensory and chemical profiles of old-vine Chenin Blanc wines indicated that the distinguishing features of the wines are “outstanding complexity of aromas and mouth-feel attributes such as concentration, body, complexity, integration, balance and length.” Click here to learn more about this fascinating subject.
A recent OVP initiative is the ‘Certified Heritage Vineyards’ seal whereby winemakers can communicate the fact that their wines have their origin in older, sometimes almost forgotten, vineyards. Through membership, the wine lover will be able to discover the provenance of these wines – where they come from, the terroir, the winemaker, the soils and often interesting background stories.
Situated on the northern slopes of Paarl Mountain, Windmeul Kelder was established in 1944. Today it sources its grapes from a variety of selected vineyards. The remarkable vineyard that yielded the Chenin Blanc for Creation’s first old-vine wine was planted in 1974 and is thus 45 years old!
The Creation old-vine Chenin Blanc will be the second Chenin in the estate portfolio. The maiden vintage, launched in 2017, was the first cool-climate Chenin to be grown and made in the Hemel-en-Aarde. The wine rewards with crisp quince and fresh green apple flirting with the smoothness of coconut milk and is a great companion for salmon. Click here for the Creation Culinary Team’s scrumptious recipe for Salmon Gravadlax with Rye and Herb Crumble, Lemon Tarragon Sphere and Fennel Foam.
In the meantime, Cellarmaster Jean-Claude Martin has reported that the old-vine grapes from Windmeul Kelder arrived at Creation in excellent condition, showing great promise. “We look forward to the feedback from our clients, and especially Chenin lovers, when releasing our first old-vine wine later this year,” he commented.