|Thursday, 12 July 2012||Quality takes time, excellence takes a little longer|
At Zonnebloem, we have a saying that quality takes time but excellence a little longer. We take our time in cultivating long-standing relationships with some of the best growers in the business. Some have been supplying to Zonnebloem for three and four generations or more.
Together we consider where to establish vineyards, think about whether to trellis or not, decide which vineyards do best dry-farmed and which benefit from supplementary irrigation. We collaborate on canopy management and of course, on optimal ripening. We also take our time in profiling every one of the 330 vineyard blocks at our disposal, so we properly understand the building blocks we have to work with.
Take the 2010 Zonnebloem Shiraz as a case in point. The grapes were sourced from mainly trellised vineyards in Stellenbosch Kloof, Helderberg and Devon Valley. Mostly south-west facing, they had the advantage of cooling maritime breezes to slow down ripening, which is good for concentrating fruit flavours. Admittedly, the one time we do hurry is when it comes to picking to ensure we get the grapes at just the right time. Even so, we make sure we select the best berries and then we take a bit of time to sort the fruit so only the top grapes make it into our wines. The fruit for this Shiraz was hand-picked as you’d expect, and harvested at full-balanced ripeness when it reached 24° to 25° Balling.
In the cellar we don’t hasten things either. In this case, every block was separately vinified to retain its uniqueness. Each tank was cold-soaked for five to seven days. Fermentation took place on the skins for 10 to 12 days. We then racked the juice off the skins and pressed the skins. We added back a bit of the pressed juice for some complexity. While the wine was undergoing malolactic fermentation, we applied our minds as to how best to age it, thinking about how much wood contact it needed. Here we took our time choosing from some new and second-fill small barrels.
We gave the oak maturation 14 months and only then made up the final blend. Then after bottling the wine had to wait some three months to settle into its new glass home and only now is it ready for release.
It’s a gorgeous plum red and smells and tastes of ripe, juicy plums, luscious berries and a hint of spice that is beautifully integrated with wood.
Given the time it’s taken to conceive and make, you might like to take your time in savouring it with a few slices of 26-month aged Serrano-style air-dried ham, made by Jason Lucas in Prince Albert. That’s how long it needed to bring its densely layered flavours to the fore with the faintest touch of sweetness. why not extend the pleasure and nibble on some 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano while sipping the wine. It’s also hand-made, produced from the unpasteurised milk of grass or hay-fed cows and contains no additives. It has passed two summers, as the cheese makers like to say, and has reached the peak of its flavour with a complex fruity/nutty taste with a strong savoury character and a slightly gritty texture.
Some things deserve not to be rushed.