I would like to share some excitement. The BLANKBOTTLE Winery will be moving into a new space early in December. Even though I love my current winery with all my heart, and it will be near impossible to top its soul, there’s just not any more space left. We processed 78 tons of grapes in the 160 square meter space this year…

The Life of a Black Valentine 2015

This wine is dedicated to the Black Valentine […or mistress] of the South African wine industry.

The life of black valentineBack in the day, say 35 years ago or so, our more senior winemakers made fabulous wines, which turned out to age so very well. If these wines were stored in the correct way, they turned out to be beautiful, fine and elegant wines with spectacular freshness. The era thereafter though, winemakers aimed for super extracted heavy-oaked wines – more new world style wines. It turned out that the newer era’s wines aged differently. So what exactly did those older winemakers do to their wines that made a 35-year old wine taste so fresh and elegant? Of course there are many angles to this answer, but one possibility I find quite spectacular.

On the labels of these older wines they would mention only one varietal. Apparently this was not the case… In those days the basic pumps, which transported crushed grapes to the tank, struggled to pump super small berries. The amount of juice vs. skin was too little and the skins blocked the pumps. So they needed a lubricant. A consumable one. They made a plan – they would pick Cinsaut the day before harvesting the cultivars with small berries. Cinsaut has huge berries with thin skins, in other words: lots of juice. The crushed Cinsaut would lie in a tank with a little pipe running towards the pump, lubricating the lesser-juiced varietal with Cinsaut to enable the pump to handle the pressure. This had a dual function: firstly the pump would work and secondly they were changing a lower-priced varietal into a higher-priced varietal. Of course they had to keep this secret and subsequently only declared one varietal on the main label. But the one thing they probably didn’t realize at the time was that – and this is the important bit – Cinsaut’s typical characteristics are those of fresh strawberries and cherries, with a lighter tannin structure and older vineyards would produce very “perfumy” wines.

So many of these older wines have a large chunk of Cinsaut in – no-one really knows how much, but there is speculation that it is the Cinsaut indeed that is giving life to these older wines – the elegance and freshness. What confirms the suspicion are wines like old Chateau Libertas. It is a known fact that they used massive amounts of Cinsaut in those wines.

And as the South African wine industry is constantly searching for its own unique identity and style, I think Cinsaut is part of the puzzle.

So here’s to Cinsaut – “The life of a Black Valentine” – Mainly Syrah, small bit of Grenache, Mourvedre and yes, a large chunk of Cinsaut.

Confessions of a White Glove Chaser 2015

This wine started with the 2013 harvest being a straight Cabernet Sauvignon from the Helderberg in Somerset West. With this release, the 2015, I wanted to take the wine a step further. In South African winemaking history, winemakers used to add Cinsaut as blending component to add freshness and length to Cabernet. So the 2015: Mainly Cabernet with quite a bit of Cinsaut. And to fill out the mid pallet: some Blaauwklippen road Malbec and Helderberg Cabernet franc. A really great wine. Fully drinkable now but will only start to reveal its true colours in a year and will age well for years to come.

Confessions of a white glove chaserThe story on how this wine started way before the 2013 harvest were picked: Now this is one of those juicy stories where you need to use the exact right words to avoid disclosing too much info and stepping on toes.

So here goes. As a start you have to realize that I don’t have a huge budget for consultants when it comes to any aspect of my business. So I am forced to be creative in all areas, including the ways I make my wine and perfecting every step of the process. Vineyard-site selection is where all wine begins, and to me personally, one of my most crucial decisions. At the moment I make many unusual varietals, like Fernao Pirez, where it’s relatively easy to get exposure, as I am one of the only winemakers making it.

For the last 2 years though, I have been focusing on core varietals, where it’s much more challenging to be a step ahead. The Helderberg’s been called by some as one of the best places in SA to grow Bordeaux varietals (stuff like Cab, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec etc.) This led to a lot of activity on the mountain and some wineries going all out, really ALL OUT, to identify the right spots for the production of these varietals. Some of them spend obscene amounts of cash on local and international consultants in areas like viticulture and soil science – basically terroir fundis. Being a fan of most of these philosophies/wines produced, I started tracking them. Yes them, there are quite a few. One group I call “The White Gloves”. So where they buy Cab, I buy right next to them. It’s that simple. My very creative strategy. So, “Confessions of a White Glove Chaser”, is pure Cabernet Sauvignon made up from 3 individual parcels of grapes. On my side: A confession that I am a white glove chaser.

A few aspects of how this wine was made changes the style compared to most Cabernet’s out there. 0% new oak was used – all aged in small French oak 9 year old barrels for 15 months. The wine was held on the grape skins after alcoholic fermentation for 1 month. From grape to wine there was nothing except a bit of sulphur added. Oh, yes and the label I changed a bit from the 2013 to the 2015. Whenever I change the style of a wine from year to year, I will change the look of the label as well. It is still the traced shape of my 9-year-old son’s hand, using linography, but the background I did with oil paint and the font was hand drawn with a pencil into the wet orange oil paint. The wine, like all my wines, hand made, hand bottled and hand labeled – by the colourful people of South Africa.

E-mail: pieter@blankbottle.co.za
Telephone: +27 (0)82 872 8658

Please note

Due to the many small batches of wines we make, availability changes on a daily basis. Please email aneen@blankbottle.co.za if you’d like to order any of our wines or if you are looking for a specific wine, and she will reply with a list of wines now selling. If the wine you are looking for is sold out, we could suggest some alternative excitement and/or we could also put together a unique selection for you.

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