Blaauwklippen has been a proud producer of Zinfandel since the seventies and single-vineyard Zinfandels take center stage at this historic Stellenbosch winery. Cellarmaster Rolf Zeitvogel and his winemaking team are so passionate about the grape, that they host an annual Zinfadel tasting to showcase the every growing portfolio.
This year, guests were presented with eight noble late harvest vintages, all made from Zinfadel grapes grown on the estate and bottled under the Blaauwklippen label. The vertical tasting, which took place at the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town, started with the 2014 vintage and ended at 2007.
Here are some fascinating facts on the cultivar and its South African origin, shared by Rolf and assistant winemaker Narina Cloete during the tasting:
- Walter Finlayson was the first winemaker to bring Zinfandel into South Africa. He was the winemaker at Blaauwklippen at the time and also planted the cultivar at Glen Carlou, when he moved there as winemaker.
- The oldest Zinfandel block at Blaauwklippen was planted in 1982 and goes by the name of Padstal1. There is also a Zinfandel block 2 and 4.
- Since 2005 they have not fertilized or irrigated the Zinfandel blocks. Two-thirds of grapes on the bunch get removed, leading to balanced ripening and reducing sour rot.
- The Zinfandel grape has a very thin skin and is high in sugar.
- Blaauwklippen produced its first Zinfandel Noble Late Harvest in 2007. The initial idea was to produce a port, but a heatwave caused half the berries had shriveled, which gave concentration.
- Blaauwklippen is the only wine producer (that we know of) that makes Noble Late Harvest from Zinfandel grapes