#321 Kloovenburg Lledoner Pelut 2021
Wine of Origin Swartland. 100% Lledoner Pelut; that is to say 100% “Hairy Grenache” or Garnacha Peluda, as it is otherwise known.
Grapes are handpicked early in the morning – at cool ambient temperatures, and then maintained at low temps over night. All grapes are fermented using spontaneous fermentation, with 60% of the grapes being crushed, and the other 40% being fermented as whole-cluster parcels. The fermented wine is left on the skins for a 7-day post-ferment maceration, and then pressed into older French Oak barrels, where it is matured for 10 months. Malolactic conversion takes place in barrel.
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A heart full of history; an eye on the future
In 2008, Rosa Kruger was in the process of co-founding the Old Vine Project; an initiative that revolved around preserving South Africa’s rich treasure troves of old vines, dotted around the Cape Winelands. At about this same time, Rosa sat down with pioneering winemaker Eben Sadie and Vititech’s supremely dynamic Nico Spreeth, along with a few others, to discuss what the future of the South African national vineyard might look like. Because, through the close study of South Africa’s oldest vines; the soughts of vines and cultivars that have survived and thrived in the often hostile South African climate, Rosa began asking the question, “what are the sorts of vines and cultivars that will thrive in this worsening environment into the future?”
At that fateful meeting, the team were on the hunt for cultivars that not only seemed likely to survive in the hot dry Cape climate, but also to thrive, and produce high quality wines. Acid levels and ripening cycles were two key qualities that Rosa prioritised when making her list. By the end of that meeting, the team had settled on 15 cultivars, which included Xinomavro, Assyrtiko, Mencia, Macabeo/Viura, Picpoul Blanc, and Lledoner Pelut.
Of course, having a viticultural shopping list is one thing, but successfully locating, purchasing, importing, quarantining, propagating, and ultimately grafting those cultivars ia a very different story altogether. Some of the cultivars took up to 17 years to successfully pass through the rigorous Vititec plant improvement and quarantine processes, and Rosa maintains that none of them would have made it, were it not for the seemingly indefatiguable efforts of Vititec’s Nico Spreeth, who has since resigned.
“Mencia, for one, had to be imported multiple times, because the vines kept on dying during the quarantine phase,” added Rosa. “But we got it right eventually.”
Now today’s wine of the day is made with fruit from South Africa’s only Lledona Pelut vineyard. This fascinating cultivar is a rare Spanish Grenache clone that features prominent hairy leaves, carries inherent drought resistance, and has developed a robust system of leaf hairs that also render is almost impervious to diseases like grey rot. It also happened to ripen significantly more quickly than South Africa’s then-available Grenache Noir clones GN70 and ENTAV’s 513. This meant that vignerons could harvest a phenolicly ripe Lledoner Pelut grapes (at 23°/24° Balling) at the same time that other farmers were harvesting GN 70 clones for their rosés (+\-21° Balling).
Now you have yet to sign up for your Monthly HanDrinksSolo Wine Subscription then you’ll have to hunt this wine down in your own time, and see what this guy is all about. But until then, here are my tasting notes and some technical specs:
👃🏼 The vanguard carries an impressively layered array of aromas; cinnamon, rocket leaf herbal pepper, cherries, strawberry fizzers, sandalwood, fennel, dried rose petals, cedar wood and potting soil.
👄 The overwhelming sense is that of being a “pretty” grenache, as opposed to being “moody”. So, I guess, in that sense it is definitely classic South African Grenache, as opposed to being of the bigger, moodier ilk as one might expect from the South of France or Spain. The mouthfeel is delightfully silky, with elements of crystal clear sour cherry and raspberry boiled candy. There is also a really interesting overt starking red apple note, which I don’t think I’ve ever encountered on a red wine before.
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