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Reflections from Paul Clüver Family Wines’ Bountiful Season

With the 2024 grape harvest having finished on Paul Clüver Family Wines in the middle of March, the vineyards are bare of fruit, their leaves now slowly taking on their golden-brown autumnal hues before they will drop-off in winter. Post-Easter rain has replenished the soils, and soon the planting of cover-crops will commence as another cycle begins in the Year of the Vine.

With all the grapes harvested and the juice fermented into young wines, the cellar has returned to its monastic silence as winemakers and staff talk in revered tones about the status of the various varieties in their respective maturation vessels, comment on particular traits emanating from vintage 2024 and predict how these wines will further age before bottling. You don’t work in wine, you live with it.

Harvesting commenced on Paul Clüver in the second week of February this year with the younger Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, the harvest pushed forward by dry conditions over the Cape during December and January. These earlier picked grapes were an indication of things to come, showing that the drier conditions, which had resulted in sparser grape yields, had triggered tremendous fruit-concentration in the berries, which were smaller than usual. Less grape, but more fruit was the word.

And as the more mature blocks of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were ripe for picking towards end February, particularly for the Paul Clüver Estate and Seven Flags ranges, a truer impression of this year’s crop could be reached.

Denser skins on the Pinot Noir for silky tannins and deeper colour. Gorgeous fruit profiles on the Chardonnay with just the correct degree of perky acidity. And, the result of Paul Clüver’s diligent vineyard management programme during the growing season, grapes were of optimal health.

While most of Cape’s other regions continued to bask in a hot summer, Elgin’s reputation as a cool climate area stayed true. Daytime temperatures during harvest were in the mid 20°C, while by the end of February night’s were cooling down into the teens. This evening-cool is vital during harvest as it freshens up the grapes and the chemical balance ahead of the next morning’s pick.

The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay undergo wild, spontaneous fermentations which can be for as long a period as 10 weeks. The aroma of just-fermented wine is still hanging in the cellar, while the youthful offerings of vintage 2024 are being scrutinised by Andries Burger and his team, with all round impressions of a distinctive wine year of exceptional quality.