Rietvallei Estate is excited to be part of a dynamic new grouping of wine producers that should be a force in wine style development of the world’s most iconic white wine cultivar, Chardonnay, by expressing the essence of the Robertson region’s limestone rich soils under the banner Calcrete.
The five wines recently launched under this label – derived from the terms calcium and crete – are carefully selected, unwooded creations from Rietvallei, in tandem with those from De Wetshof Estate, Excelsior, Van Loveren Family Vineyards and Weltevrede Estate.
Rietvallei Estate, of course, has been at the forefront of the Robertson wine region’s great strides in the Cape’s fine wine production and indisputably becoming prime Chardonnay Country. It’s been proven over the recent decades that this noble Burgundian white cultivar thrives here in the ideal soils with their high concentration of chalk, clay and limestone.
This historic estate naturally belongs in this grouping of prominent Robertson wine houses as it increasingly garners top awards at significant evaluations, while being at the thrust of Chardonnay evolvement following the first of these vineyards established here 40 years ago.
The vision of Calcrete, as explained during wine launches in Johannesburg and Cape Town, with the role players of these wineries in attendance, is to excel in offering a wine that authentically represents the terroir, producers of the region, and the lifestyle of the valley.
“Calcrete is poised to be known as the quintessential sunshine wine and the ultimate food wine, encapsulating the essence of its terroir of birth,” said Weltevrede’s Philip Jonker, who released the maiden Weltevrede Calcrete 2021 at the end of that year.
In 2022, De Wetshof’s delivery joined this “down-to-earth’ fold and in 2023 Rietvallei, Excelsior and Van Loveren were in the mix.
That was after Philip had convinced Rietvallei’s Kobus Burger, Johann de Wet from De Wetshof, Chris Crafford from Van Loveren and Peter de Wet from Excelsior and other local family vineyards to each present an unwooded Chardonnay prepared in a mineral-driven style – that elusive but increasingly important pure minerality characteristic being at the essence of this concept.
The Calcrete signature appears on each producer’s label as a registered trademark. Only approved members of the Calcrete Wine Custodians will be permitted to use the name for individually approved and Wine of Origin certified unwooded Chardonnay from Wine of Origin Robertson.
To qualify, the wines presented are evaluated by a panel of the winemakers involved. Some of these wines will be labelled as “Chardonnay with Calcrete” while others will bear the name “Calcrete” alone – the idea being that Calcrete will become synonymous with unwooded Chardonnay from Robertson, distinguished by its exceptional minerality.
Said Kobus Burger, Rietvallei’s CEO and winemaker, “We let terroir do the talking and draw inspiration from Chablis in northern Burgundy. Before the launching of this project, I remember last being so excited about this cultivar when making my first Chardonnay some 21 years ago.”
Calcrete, according to the proponents, defines the wines from this unique Chardonnay region. Their various wines distinctly represent Chardonnay in its purest form and express terroir with great clarity and minerality, each with its own unique regional attributes.
The main thread of underlying minerality is usually associated with sensations like flintiness, steeliness or elegance evoked in a wine’s earthy and chalky mouthfeel. The wines’ crisp crystalline character, nuances of wet stone, saline palate and oyster shell minerality are highlighted by the linear unwooded profile.
The Calcrete Chardonnay is exclusive to the limestone-rich wine appellation of Robertson. Here the distinctive terroir ranges from calcareous outcrops to arid, broken shale, both features resulting from ancient petrified maritime deposits.
In Rietvallei’s case, Calcrete Chardonnay 2023 derives from Chardonnay vines planted in 2013 on a west-facing slope in calcareous soils: