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The 2017 Elgin vintage

We have been privileged to have experienced some of the greatest vintages in the Cape the past few vintages. 2015 was described by many winemakers as one of the best experienced in their winemaking career. 2016 was quite a challenging vintage, very early but with wines that are fuller and more opulent but still with lots of freshness and depth.

We have seen only six days over 30°C between January and March, compared to 11 days last year at the same time. The average temperatures for January and February were also noticeably lower. We had a bigger difference between average maximum temperatures and average minimum temperatures, 11.8° versus 10.6°C in 2016. Bigger diurnal temperature variation was also noticeable which is great for colour and flavour development.

The 2017 was another vintage which I would rate as one of the better harvests of the 21 vintages I have experienced at Paul Cluver Wines. The harvest started only on the 12th of February compared to the 28th of January in 2016. What is significant about the vintage is that the crop was much smaller than in 2016. This was mainly due to higher than average wind during flowering, resulting in less fruit set, thus less berries per bunch. This led to amazing concentration of flavour and colour for the Pinot Noir. We have seen very high natural acidity in the grapes this vintage, giving great freshness but also adding to the poise and focus of the resulting wines.

This year we invested in new equipment as well. We added a second Armbruster detemmer, a destemmer with a very soft destemming action. This was done to ensure we increase our capacity of the grapes we can process per day to harvest everything at optimum maturity. We also invested in a new Willmes inert press. This is a press that minimizes oxygen pick up at pressing, resulting in fresher and better quality juice. This also enabled us to use less sulphur prior to fermentation.

Most of the Sauvignon Blanc is fermented dry and we are busy with the first rackings, and the wine will now stay on fine lees until blending. The Rieslings and Chardonnay are still fermenting and showing great potential while the Pinot Noirs are being racked to barrel for malolactic fermentation.

Andries Burger, Cellarmaster
May 2017