With another harvest behind us and the grapes safely in the cellar, our winemaker Jan van Rooyen shares some of his thoughts for the future in a Q & A session.
- Tell us a little bit about the vineyards and progress there?
I’m really happy with the work we’re doing on our Pinot Noir vineyards as they are planted on a great south-facing slope closest to the sea, which just screams quality. I also personally love Pinot Noir, so it is a treat to work with these grapes.
The small block of Petit Verdot (1 ha) is destined to become an integral part of our flagship Bordeaux-style blend, the Baccarat for which I always strive to get the best grapes possible. Basically the better this grape is, the better our blends will be.
This brings me to our “bread-and-butter” line, the Cabernet/Merlot, which will eventually possibly feature a little “injection” of Shiraz to add some complexity. Although you don’t want to mess with a winning recipe, one can always improve!
The Viognier has been coming along for about three years now and it’s already playing a positive albeit tiny role in some of the whites eg the Luna de Miel Chardonnay Reserve and the Sarabande Sauvignon Blanc Reserve. Further evolution could include the use of Viognier in our top reds as well.
- I believe there’s a new dessert wine in the offing?
One of the exciting new products planned for this year is the Natural Sweet Viognier which will be released under the Above Royalty label. We were lucky enough to bring in a wonderfully healthy ripe Viognier for the 2017 vintage and with our flexible approach to the dessert wine product line, we would bottle it as a natural dessert wine to replace the current fortified Liqueur Wine which is nearly sold out.
- You are phasing in the new Estate labels. How do you feel about them?
The new packaging with its distinctive diamond shape is simple and modern and suits the wines we’re planning to make this year and over the next few years. The label has been received very well in trade and we love the elegance and clarity of the design.
- Update us on the progress made with the Pinot Noir Chardonnay Blend.
From its inception as the Vintner’s Blend, this wine has been a winner. Three years ago we decided to include it in the Estate range and add some quality elements to it, which has paid off. This is an exciting wine to work with as it’s evolving all the time, and it’s great to see wine consumers enjoying it too. The signature has been established and it’s coming more and more into its own with every new vintage.
- Avontuur is doing a lot of work to promote Cabernet Franc amongst wine lovers. What is your take on this varietal?
I am proud to announce that we have now been making a single varietal Cabernet Franc at Avontuur for 21 years! The first one was produced in 1996 and was mentioned in the 1998 Platter’s. Our 2014 is being released and it’s a fruity wine with fine tannins, elegance and that typical “fynbos” character always prevalent in our Cab Francs. This year sees the third Cab Franc Carnival sponsored by Avontuur Estate and it’s growing every year, although we do try to keep it niche and upmarket to suit our farm and intimate family-orientated approach.
- Pinotage is our “national” grape. What do you think about the Avontuur version?
With new plantings coming nicely into their own our Pinotage is a quality product with a loyal fan club who support it throughout. I would love to “play” a bit with the style as the diversity of Pinotage is becoming quite a driver in the category and the grape lends itself to experimentation, always keeping to our Estate positioning though.