So sorry I have been so quiet! Things on the BLANKbottle side; however, have been everything but quiet. Since you last heard from me I bottled 19 new wines, rigged my own winery (long story!), did the first harvest there (double the production size of last year) and had an awesome time in Switzerland/Germany/Malta/Belgium with my agents and clients there. So the first newsletter of 2014 is very late. I will follow this one up with the story of how I ended up with my own new winery and some nice other stuff. But more importantly: lets release new wines.
BLANKbottle DOK 2013 = R89 a bottle
Mostly Riesling, Semillon and a bit of Sauvignon blanc.
In 2010, I took part in a surf contest, the Anual Vintners Surf Classic in Stilbay, situated on the east coast of South Africa. Only surfing-winemakers/viticulturists/grape producers are allowed to compete. And believe it or not, we are almost 40 contestants every year. That specific year, I met a guy called Dok Gary van Wyk. A surfing-doctor-part-time-farmer and we tasted a wine that someone made for him making use of the grapes grown on his farm. I loved the wine and asked him if I could pay him a visit. And that is how DOK began. In Valley Road, Elgin, DOK Gary farms with Riesling, Semillon and Sauvignon blanc. The 3 vineyards aren’t very big and grow on top of a rocky mountainous outcrop in red rocky clay soil. I started making wine from the grapes and this is the second vintage. This wine is representative of that little rocky outcrop in Elgin – mostly Riesling with a portion of Semillon and Sauvignon blanc.
The wine is fresh, but full bodied, something which should age well. Made in a natural way, no additives. Just a very small amount of sulphur before bottling. A wine that might be around each year. Enjoy!
BLANKbottle THE BOMB = R149 a bottle
This wine started way back – January 2012. I was left with a batch of 2010 wine in barrel that just did not fit into the blends it was intended for. And when I tested the alcohol, it was over 15%; I thought it was way too high, but LOVED the wine. After bottling, the department of agriculture came back with the final analysis. An alcohol of 16.14% – GOODNESS?!
I stacked the wine in the back of the warehouse, not sure what to do with it. I then had a tasting at the Hinterhofkabuff with a German guy called Martin Baulmann, who subsequently became my agent in Germany. We tasted all my wines and at the end he asked me if I have something big for him to taste. “How do you mean; BIG?”, I asked. “In colour, extraction, tannin?…”.” Like in 15% alcohol…”, he replied. “I think I have something even better for you” I said. So I opened a still unlabelled bottle and poured him a glass of what I was planning to name Midnight Call. He loved it and wanted to buy everything. For those of you who do not know Martin: He has a big frame, laughs loudly, and lives large. So afterwards I sat in the Hinterhofkabuff drinking a glass, thinking of this very big guy that loved this very loud wine. It seemed natural to change the name to THE BOMB.
So this is the 2012 BOMB in bottle now. A massive wine, red ripe Helderberg Cabernet fruit, super extracted but balanced. This wine has an alcohol of 15.5% which you will not be able to taste. It is just too balanced. But you feel it after a glass or two, so at least share the bottle!
BLANKbottle Moment of Silence 2013 = R89 a bottle
WELLINGTON Chenin blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier -The 2012 received 92 points out of 100 with Tim Atkin (British wine writer) in his South African Wine Report.
At tastings I often get the question: “How do you conceptualize new wines?” Although normally a firm believer in strategic planning, when it comes to new wines, I plan NOT to plan. You can never force a wine, you just need to follow the road you’re on. The journey normally starts with a friend, which typically leads to another friend, new areas and vineyards. Ultimately I end up with a wine that expresses the journey more than the actual destination, a combination of these people and their habitat.
The perfect example of such a wine is the Moment of Silence. It’s been a journey of epic proportion from the first vintage in 2007 until today – the release of the 2013 vintage. It all started off with a friend, Jan de Villiers, who took me to Wellington. To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on the area at first but by lunchtime that day I had completely changed my view. At the time I was not aware of it, but I was sitting at the original Hauptfleisch family table (more than 200 years old) and about to buy Chardonnay from a farm called Twyfeling (originally also owned by the Hauptfleisch family, 230 years ago). What makes this so significant is that my second name is Hauptfleisch, hence the H. in Pieter H. Walser. It refers to my mom’s maiden surname. And the Hauptfleisch family that owned Twyfeling turned out to be my direct family, 7 generations ago… I only discovered this 2 years after that first day in Welllington – quite a confirmation don’t you think?
Since 2007, the Moment of Silence has evolved into a area-specific white blend. The Chardonnay in the blend is still from Twyfeling and the Chenin is from Professor Kukurowitz – a block named after the professor who field-selected, multiplied and planted the vineyard 51 years ago. The third component, Viognier, is from a small block on the foothills of Groenberg. All these varietals fermented spontaneously in OLD french oak barrels. It was aged a year in barrel on the lees, blended and bottled. It’s NOT your typical wooded wine. You can hardly taste the wood. The wine is fresh! It represents and expresses the vineyards from Wellington, NOT the barrels from France…