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2019 vintage report from Darling Cellars

2019 vintage report from Darling Cellars

Our harvest started about a week later than last year, some young Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc vines with low yields first. During the ripening stage and the first two weeks of harvest the conditions were almost perfect: cool nights, cool mornings, moderate afternoons and the ever present cool Darling wind. Really almost perfect. The first white grapes came in on nice ripe sugars, healthy acidity and very good pHs.

And then the harvest changed in a weekend. We had temperatures on the Saturday of 45°C and more. That went on for 7 to 10 days – the slow ripening was not that slow anymore! None the less, the bush vines handled it very well and we still received good grapes, only a little bit faster than we wanted to. To make the harvest even a little more challenging, ESKOM had problems providing us with electricity. Luckily we have two large generators that helped us during the harvest. We also installed a bigger and better cooling unit to provide the winemakers with really cold water which helped a lot with better-controlled fermentations, preserving the fruit.

With regard to the different varieties, the Sauvignon Blanc vines had very good fruit. The flavours tasted on the grapes came through on the wines: ripe tropical fruit, very well balanced palate. I am really eager to see how they will develop.

Chenin Blanc is showing why Darling is the place for it. We harvested the Chenin at different ripeness levels, from the ‘in your face’ guava to the very ripe white fruit flavours. With healthy grapes and good harvesting conditions, the wines are showing really well.

On the reds, the Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet are showing very well – very good colour, good red fruit, ripe tannins. The wines are still busy with malolactic fermentation, but all signs are there that they will develop well.

All in all, I am very happy with the harvest so far. The wines are showing very well and I think we have a few stunners in the cellar.

Pieter-Niel Rossouw, head winemaker