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E B E N ’ S N O T E S
R E L E A S E 2 0 2 2
Yet another year has gone by and looking backward at the seemingly dwindling Covid pandemic and its realities, we can already, out of the corner of our eye see the Ukraine invasion and even more disturbing economic facts and severe loss of life, and in very many cases those of ordinary families and their future legacy. We have decided to drink more wine, for trying to make sense of this highly confusing world is impossible for now.
At this time of writing last year, I wrote about the final piece of the ROTSVAS property to be planted by a vineyard of the name SONVANG, and that has since happened, and the vineyard was established perfectly; we had good rains throughout the early part of Spring that helped much with the root development of these young vines. We were just about done with the vineyard layout of SONVANG by the end of March when we were offered 20ha of the neighbouring farms, an infrequent opportunity, and we went for included in the purchase of the adjacent 20 ha were two Chenin Blanc old vine plots, of which the one is named ANTENNA and the other ROTSBANK. Both are 35 years of age and in excellent standing. We took over the care of the vineyards on the 1st of April 2021 and have just finished our f irst harvest, and it is looking very promising. The incredible reality is that the sections we bought had better sites than even our older ones so we will develop them over time. The properties have now been consolidated, and the total hectares for the ROTSVAS farm now stand at 36,30 ha.
The immediate plan was to improve these vineyards, and the first phase was an extensive program to get organic material and compost introduced and a solid cover crop. We opted for lupines with some mustard seeds. The main objective was to improve the nitrogen status of the soil. We also started to pack strawbales under the vines to have greater preserve of soil moisture into summer, suppress the growth of weeds (undesirable plants), and in time the straw will break down and contribute to the organic status and the buildup of carbon in the soil. The vines responded exceptionally well, and the ROTSBANK vineyard, situated on the most challenging soil and structural base, proved to yield the best fruit in this f irst vintage. We will however observe these old vine parcels well, and we have now taken more extensive soil samples and have mapped the soils very well, and will start to track the progress in the soils.
The purchase also meant that we had to enlarge our team, and we bought more tractors, spray pumps and general gear. We were planning to do an extension to the cellar but those plans, for now, will be delayed for the vineyards always comes first. The process led us to acquire one of the f irst-ever South African cabin tractors for vineyards and small orchards. The reality is we are proudly South African, and it was a bold but right step to take. We bought two tractors and we are part of the development and in time, these tractors will improve, but we are already very pleased with the Breda’s performance.
We also decided to restore the old building that is the home of the Columella wine. The building’s oldest deeds stretch back to 1846 and the roof was at its end, and also the one wall of the building was starting to fall over or at least started to copy the leaning tower of Pisa. We removed the old delapidated roof, constructed a tie beam, and erected a new roof. After that, we just renovated the entire building without losing its history and soul. At the same time, we improved the insulation and the entire climate control of the cellar, so we are optimistic that we can now even age the Columella wine slower. In turn, it will mean the wine will yet require more ageing in bottle. Once we completed the renovation, it served as a catalyst for carrying on and in the subsequent months, we repainted and refurbished all of the cellar buildings and woodwork on the property, and what started as a small project escalated into one major operation. But it is al l set and done now, and a great feeling. The West Coast project at Bottelfontein farm came to fruition after many years of input. The project was a massive endeavor and truthfully, there were even times when we thought maybe we had pushed it too far this time. But Kobus Brand and his team were a significant ingredient of the success. We picked the f irst fruit this year on the 7th of February, and it was just such a reward to see the f irst juice go to cask. The initial indicat ions are most promising.
The main reason for the West Coast Project at Bottelfontein was mainly because of the lime deposits in the soil that promised minerality and salty linear qualities to the wine. The inf luence of the St. Helena Bay fog and wind of the Atlantic Ocean is also a considerable effect and a possible avenue for us to secure more excellent acidity in our wines in the future. For example, the average temperatures are much lower than in Malmesbury, for that matter.
This year’s release follows 2021 being one of our strongest releases ever! And it is always going to be a hard act to follow in a year where seemingly nothing was less than ideal! However, we strongly feel that the wines of this 2022 release resemble a coming of age for all of our practices and handlings. We have made many changes and investments, particularly over the past eight years, and the magnitude of work and intellectual input into the vineyards has been staggering. Sometimes one looks back and fails to see where all the energy and the means came from with the wonder can it persist into the future. We are convinced that by keeping one busy with the excellent task at hand, the energy is gained from merely seeing the result. We are incredibly proud of this year’s release. Both the Columel la and Palladius have reached a stable levelof refinement. The Old Vine Series has become more excel lent ambassadors of the various districts they come from, and the individual sites have now firmly forged their identities. Other than that, we want to welcome the latest family member in the likes of LOKI; he was bread by the AA BADENHORST family and is the newest child of our trusted winemaker Paul Jordaan. At this young age, he already has developed an acquired taste... I want to thank everyone for their continued support and for helping us to see our vision into liquid reality. Much care goes into every aspect we undertake, and we cannot do any of this without you and your f inancial commitment to our wines and the daily inputs we receive.
Enjoy this very special release.