Longridge launches exclusive new Single Vineyard Chardonnay named Clos du Ciel

Longridge Wine Estate has released a new Chardonnay made from a single vineyard block planted almost 30 years ago.

All the grapes used in the 2013 Clos du Ciel Single Vineyard Chardonnay was hand-picked from a single block situated high on the slopes of the Helderberg. The block was originally planted by wine legend John Platter and is rooted in decomposed granite, some of the oldest viticulture soil in the world.

The block was planted with nine different Chardonnay clones and extra tight spacing between the rows with about 5000 plants per hectare. The “heavenly vineyard” flourished in the dry land farming conditions with the unique climate of cool Atlantic breezes off False Bay during the day and cool night air flowing down the mountain at night, which resulted in the even ripening of the berries and a good, natural acidity.

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The grapes were picked in February 2013 and whole bunch pressed before being left to settle naturally after which native yeast fermentation took place. The wine is produced and bottled without the use of fining agents or filtering. The resultant Chardonnay shows good minerality with a rich toasty character, ripe soft-skin citrus with notes of blossom honey and a lingering perfume finish.

Winemaker Jasper Raats is extremely committed to organic and bio-dynamic viticultural practises. He was inspired by the successful history of Chardonnay at Longridge and when the decision was made to produce terroir-driven, he started working exclusively with Helderberg grapes. While exploring the options, he remembered Clos du Ciel and starting tracing its roots – via former winemaker Andre Morgenthal and eventually to the current owner. They entered into a long-term agreement and the Longridge team took over the management of the vineyard to restore it to its former glory.

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Jasper Raats with John Platter.

“It is an incredible vineyard with its narrow rows and high density plantings. It is extremely labour intensive as conventional equipment can’t fit between the rows, so everything is done by hand. I have always been fascinated by the intriguing wines that can be produced from a single vineyard and the Grande en Premiere Cru’s of Bourgogne have been especially inspirational. In my opinion, it is not that difficult to make a good blended wine, but it is quite a challenge to create a great wine with complexity and balance from grapes from one parcel and one specific site. I believe that it takes a special place such as Clos du Ciel rather than a winemaker’s skills to produce such a special wine and hope that this wine will prove me right,” explains Raats.

The 2013 Clos du Ciel will be available from the Longridge wine shop, The Wine Cellar and selected retails stores at approximately R500 per bottle.