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Could 2015 be the best vintage of the past decade?

Winemakers are notorious for playing their cards close to the chest when it comes to making predictions about the latest harvest.

Winemaker at Lanzerac – Wynand Lategan – on the 2015 harvest…

In my time at Lanzerac, the vintages that went on to justify the initial feeling of greatness were 2007 and particularly 2009, a vintage that is widely acknowledged as the best the Cape has so far produced in the new millennium. The 2015 vintage is also now proving to be one of the better ones.

So how about the 2015 vintage? you may ask. Well, I am going to stick my neck out here and declare it as potentially rivalling the great 2009 vintage. First off, the current vintage was by the end of March just a memory after being the earliest on recent records. Of more importance, however, was the state of the grapes, which one can only describe as superb. Never have I seen grapes that were more healthy and had better technical analysis (acidity and pH levels were amazing). What makes me very excited about the earlier ripening varieties like chardonnay, merlot and pinotage is that the grapes reached phenolic ripeness at lower sugars, higher acidities and lower Ph levels – all markers the modern wine maker is looking for.

As the dust settles on the 2015 vintage, we can also recall some added excitement with huge veld fires in the Jonkershoek Valley at the end of the harvest. Luckily it did not affect any vineyards or grapes as the harvest was in the cellar by then and we were busy pressing the last of the cabernet tanks and filling barrels.

The new white wines in the cellar are finished with fermentation and have been sulphured and the tanks filled up, while the red wines are currently undergoing malolactic fermentation. This quieter time in the cellar gives me time to a taste, contemplate and assess each wine, and to make the all-important decisions regarding barrel use and maturation potential.

While this is going on we will also start to shift our attention slightly towards last year’s wines with regard to blending and preparing them for bottling.