Far below the lights of Cape Town flicker brightly as the city slickers stir and ready themselves to brave the morning traffic. A Cape Eagle Owl hoots approvingly as I walk through the vineyard taking samples and the scattered porcupine quills in one of the Nine Yards Chardonnay vineyard rows are a dead giveaway that the grapes are almost ready to harvest.
Stellenbosch, 19th January 2010.
The build-up to the 2010 vintage has been an interesting and challenging one. Winter cover crops of Triticale and Rye were sown in near-perfect conditions with 47.4 mm of rain and average temperatures of 18.2 ºC in April encouraging steady, even growth, helping to minimise any erosion on even our steepest slopes. Good winter rains (462 mm at Jordan Estate between May and end August) ensured that dams were 100% full and running over relatively early in winter.
A wet spring (174 mm in September!) continued to replenish underground water reserves, but wet soils meant that young vines had to be stored in a cold room for an extra month so that soils could dry out, before being able to be planted. In addition, vines required more canopy management than usual because of the high vigour conditions. There was very little fungal pressure, however, as temperatures remained low and budburst took place between 2 and 3 weeks later than usual.
Harvest started on the 10th February, two weeks later than usual. A heat wave in early March meant that red varieties had to be harvested before many whites!
10 days to 2 weeks later than usual for most varieties – stretched out over 8 weeks (7th February to the 2nd April) Rain during harvest on the 10th February and then cooler conditions with higher humidity till the 15th Feb caused early botrytis and minor grey rot to develop in the Chenin Blanc vineyards. The intention was to make a NLH Chenin, but sour rot set in on the Chenin Blanc after some rain on the 26th and 27th Feb, causing significant crop losses. Minor botrytis infection on later Chardonnay vineyards has added complexity without the problems associated with sour rot. Have made a stunning Riesling NLH, more concentrated than any previous vintages!
The 2007 vintage at Jordan has truly been a ‘Vintage of all Seasons’. The harvest began earlier than originally anticipated after a week-long heatwave in January and then slowed down dramatically as the weather remained cool. “At Jordan we gambled that we would experience hot weather prior to harvest, and therefore deliberately kept our Sauvignon Blanc vineyard canopies more shaded than usual,” explained Gary Jordan. “In addition, our ability to drip or micro-jet irrigate during the hot weather helped keep the vineyards cooler.” Despite the initial heat, the fruit quality and flavours were exceptional, with yields on the white varieties better than the smaller 2006 vintage.
Cool, dry and windy growing conditions, views of smoke-covered mountain peaks, lower than average yields, concentrated wines and the throaty roar of our generator are all reminders of one of our most interesting vintages to date at Jordan.