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2021 at Kanonkop, Stellenbosch

An overview of the 2021 harvest from Kanonkop’s Cellar Master, Abrie Beeslaar:

The growing season started reasonably well due to sufficient winter rains during 2020. Warmer periods during the latter part of the winter resulted in uneven budding, flowering and fruit set, which in turn led to some uneven ripening. The moisture levels in the soils were satisfactory throughout the growing and ripening phase, and very little moisture stress was noticeable on the vines.

The late start to the 2021 harvest was one of the distinguishing hallmarks of this vintage. In fact, during my 19-vintage tenure here at Kanonkop, this year was the latest we have ever started harvesting the Pinotage grapes, but their quality proved to be exceptional and produced wines with immense flavour and aromatic concentration.

January’s weather conditions were in line with the long-term average, but February was considerably cooler, with average temperatures of 29 degrees Celsius (max) and 13.9 degrees Celsius (min). During the 2nd week of March, we received 50mm of rain. This precipitation, combined with the cooler weather conditions, resulted in slower ripening for the late varietals and some Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards started to show signs of skin deterioration on the berries. A lovely warm spell during the 3rd week of March assisted these later-ripening vineyards to pull through, and we finished the harvest on the 30th of March. Quite a number of the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards were picked slightly lower than usual at 23 degrees Balling, resulting in wines with an alcohol of around 13%.

The 2021 vintage produced elegant wines with softer tannin structures that will make them accessible and drinkable from an earlier age. My personal rating of the 2021 vintage: 4/5 stars.