Ask Creation viticulturist and winemaker Jean-Claude (JC) Martin about his favourite cultivar and he responds without hesitation: Pinot Noir. He loves drinking it, he loves growing it and he loves making it! Small wonder there are four Pinot Noirs in the Creation portfolio and even less wonder that they win accolade upon accolade, locally as well as internationally.
“Pinot Noir at its best is an inspiring, elegant and multi-faceted wine offering intriguing complexity and depth. It has the texture and intensity one would typically expect from a heavily structured wine, yet a truly fine Pinot Noir is delicate and easy to drink. It doesn’t cause the palate fatigue sometimes experienced when drinking a heavy red wine. In fact, once you’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the finesse of a well-made Pinot Noir, it is hard to get excited about bolder wines. What’s more, it is one of the most versatile wines to pair with food – from fish to venison, goats-milk cheese to the tartness of fresh berries. A winner for lunch or dinner.”
According to JC a good Pinot Noir reflects the place where it is grown. Compare this to cultivars so dominant that their varietal characteristics overpower the individual expression of the terroir. “Pinot ideally needs to be grown under cooler conditions to prolong the ripening process. Our vineyards’ close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean (only 9 km away) and an elevation of 300 m above sea level result in cool conditions, ideal for the slow ripening of the grapes. The steady sea breezes coming off the cold Atlantic move up the valley and keep the vineyards healthy and the disease pressure at a very low level.”
Added to this is the fact that Creation has the first virus-free mother block planted post-1994 in South Africa and is a sustainable source for new healthy vineyards in South Africa. Healthy vines create healthy fruit which naturally impacts the quality of the wine.
Another plus factor is the estate’s 450-million-year-old clay derived Bokkeveld shale soils. Pinot Noir prefers a clay-type soil as it contributes to the structure of the wine. And then the soils also contain minerals beneficial to the pH levels of the wine while good water retention means they seldom need to irrigate once the young vines have settled.
“After all is said and done the success of our Pinot Noir really rests on the quality of the grapes. We were very blessed to have started with a virgin piece of land, a sheep farm never planted to vines before. I was, therefore, able to carefully select Pinot Noir clones best suited to the terroir and on the right rootstock. Our Pinot Noir vines are now nearly 20 years old and as our vineyards mature so the quality of the grapes become better and better. To the point that since 2017 there has been very little intervention in the winemaking process. Today we merely enhance the beauty of nature.”