Springfontein Rocks!

6th November 2017 In Season

We have recently imported some wine from our favourite place to stay and eat in the Western Cape of South Africa……. Springfontein. So, we thought it would be fun to take a closer look in our latest blog.

Springfontein Wine Estate only make very small quantities of wine, all of which are quite delicious. Our particular favourites are the Merlot, Dark Side of the Moon (they are big fans of Pink Floyd) and their dessert wine, in fact we are the only people they supply other than their own restaurant. We were delighted to receive our delivery from South Africa today after 9 months of organising.

The wine has travelled a very long way, Springfontein on the Western Cape is actually less than 100 miles from the southernmost tip of the continent of Africa. Doctor Johst Weber first set foot on the virgin soils of Springfontein (Strong Spring) in 1994, right after the fall of Apartheid. He had a dream of creating a project that involved family, friends and a product that, in his words, “is a combination of nature and human craftsmanship.”

The Estate is breathtakingly beautiful and the ocean, with its icy wind that blows across the Klein River Lagoon and across the vineyards, is close by. Along with the cool climate, pure limestone soils and their diligent work in the vineyards, the team are able to hand harvest the beautiful fruit to carefully handcraft natural wines that are structured, yet elegant and well balanced.

Springfontein focus on the varieties that South Africa is famous for, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, as well as old favourites like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, they also have small plantings of Petit Verdot, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.  In case you were wondering about the title to this article, Classic Rock songs by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and others lend these wines their memorable names. Dark Side of the Moon Chardonnay, Chenin and Blanc de Pinotage. Whole Lotta Love Pinotage, Shiraz and Petit Verdot, Child in Time Petit Verdot and with a little Pinotage Gadda da Vida Pinotage with a little Petit Verdot.

The harvest period runs from mid February until mid April, grapes are handpicked in the vineyards at the lowest possible temperatures and taken to the cellar to start the production process. Upon arrival at the cellar, the grapes are hand sorted and all unripe and inferior quality berries are removed. From there the grapes go through the de-stemmer and crusher where the stems are removed and the berries are cracked open ever so slightly. In the case of white grapes, the juice is drawn off the skins and pumped to the settling tanks where the juice will be settled clearly before moving it into the fermentation vessels which can be either wooden barrels or stainless steel tanks. In the case of red grapes, the juice remains on the skins to extract its flavors and rich colour. This carefully monitored extraction is aided by regular punch-downs which are done by hand and plays a vital role in the style of wine that the winemaker has in mind.

To wood or not to wood, is a controversial and most discussed subject with winemakers, and wine lovers as well. The team have chosen to use a mixture of French, Hungarian and American Oak, and a variety of new, 2nd, 3rd or 4th fill barrels. Some serve as traditional wood-support, and some serve simply as a vessel. All have different influences, and Springontein enjoy the complexity and structure the wood adds to some of our wines. Reds are barrel aged, and some are kept in the cellar in the bottle before being released.

The Terroir
The Klein River along Springfontein’s northern border marks the boundary line between the acidic soils derived from Table Mountain sandstone to the north, whilst Springfontein’s soils south of the river, have an alkaline maritime limestone base. This doesn’t keep the heat as much as the darker undergrounds of other South African wine regions, giving a specific subtlety to the grapes as it allows much less, or even no sulfur, to be added during winemaking and bottling.

During ripening season, mostly south-easterly winds from the sea keep the air temperatures low and away from any heat charging generated by land. The Klein River Mountains opposite the estate along its northern border are rising very steeply causing significant cloud generation so that the sunshine hours are far below the average of other South African wine regions. These topographical and geological specifics, mean that Springfontein Wine Estate’s terroir is determined in a unique way by the Agulhas and the Benguela Current.

We really hope that you have enjoyed our little journey around these delicious wines from South Africa and that it inspires you to try one or two here at Seasons. We will be only too happy to advise you on which wine to pair with the seasonal dishes on our menus or you could just choose your favourite Rock song title!