I live a couple doors down from one of the best Sauvignon Blanc makers in South Africa. I’m at his house regularly getting braai lessons and listening to music I don’t understand.
A few weeks before harvest 2021 I was there. He had all the bottles of wine we were tasting put into socks so I couldn’t see what they were. Some from overseas, most local, we tasted through a dozen different wines.
I couldn’t tell you exactly which number it was, but towards the end of the flight a wine really caught my interest. There was something familiar about it, but also foreign. As we discussed the wine, I felt the need to bring the winemaker into it. I felt like he/she was a bit timid. A bit reserved when it came to making the wine. I felt like the grapes had so much more to show but the creator held back.
The irony and embarrassment was not lost on me as moments later the sock was removed and it was MY wine underneath.
My 2020 Fumé Blanc is a wine I am quite proud of. And I’m no psychologist but me dragging the winemaker into my comments on the wine was quite telling.
With harvest 2021 just around the corner, it was the perfect wake-up call.
Did I play it safe in 2020? Of course I did. I put all my chips in when I decided to move to SA and start LOST BOY. I literally could not afford for one of my wines to not work out. I was terrified.
But as I sat around that table with my own wine in my glass something clicked. I have never played it safe once in my life. The last-minute, whim decision to come to SA in the first place was certainly not a calculated move. It was blind passion, hope, and maybe a bit of destiny.
[Enter Fumé Blanc harvest 2021]
I went wild.
At the perfect balling, I harvested. Everything by hand, before the sun even rose above the mountain the vineyard sits on.
I let those grapes hang until I knew they were perfect. Even while those signature Cape Agulhas storms would pop up on the weather app or even show their face in the distance, I waited.
The first gamble I went with this year that I avoided last? 100% whole bunch pressing. I sorted the grapes twice by hand to ensure only the healthiest of clusters were used – then loaded everything into the press.
From here, I gently pressed only 550L/ton directly into 2nd fill French Oak 500L barrels.
I regulated the temp by driving my rack of barrels around to colder corners of the winery with the forklift.
After 36 hours, wild ferment from the natural yeasts in the vineyard had begun. I kept ferment under 16 degrees C throughout via my forklift technique.
After 16 days, fermentation had concluded. Still, I left the wine on the rough lees with bâtonnage every 2 weeks. This continued for 9 months.
Cold and protein stability were sorted by the time in barrel. And the wine was racked directly off the lees from the barrel into bottle just 6 weeks prior to release.
The finished product? The biggest, boldest, wildest wine I’ve ever made.
I’ve never been one to play it safe. My 2021 Fumé Blanc is a return to that ethos that brought me to South Africa in the first place. And with your reviews so far, I think it’s clear I need to keep doing things my way 🙏