Another triumphant SA Terroir competition result has proved that Rietvallei Wine Estate in Robertson rules the roost when it comes to expressing that magical terroir expression in its wines, being crowned for the third year in a row as Top Terroir Wine Estate at the 18th annual SA Terroir Wine Awards.
Rietvallei at the same time received the SA Terroir Trophy for the Top Producer, boasting the highest number of top estate-produced wines, including two National Winners – namely the Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2019 and the top red blend, the Rietvallei Estéanna Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc 2019 – as well as bagging six area winners in the Robertson District.
This year’s results were announced during a prestigious awards luncheon at the well-known Lanzerac Hotel in Stellenbosch on Wednesday 16 August, where the 50th anniversary of the Wine of Origin Scheme, which forms the basis of this competition, was also celebrated.
Rietvallei also won six out of 11 regional district or ward categories, namely for the 2019 Cabernet Franc, 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2022 Classic Chardonnay (wooded), 2019 Estéanna Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc (Red Blend category), 2023 Sauvignon Blanc and 2021 Shiraz.
Reaffirming unique terroir traits
Said Kobus Burger, “We feel extremely honoured to have been awarded the Top Estate trophy and two national category trophies once again at this year’s Terroir competition. This reaffirms our unique terroir traits for fine wine production. It’s gratifying to see the Robertson valley and its terroir-driven wines increasingly being acknowledged among the country’s leading wine terrains with their extraordinary diversity.
“Our calcium-rich soils are obviously number one in our terroir make-up. Also very important are the summer nights that cool down so well thanks to that little southeaster that comes through our valley between six and eight every night in summertime, especially during ripening. So, there’s the benefit of a dramatic difference between our day and night temperatures.
“Then, also the fact that we irrigate and are not dryland and have enough sun and water and can adapt the irrigation, increase or reduce it, or even remove watering entirely, to manipulate according to the vines’ needs,” added Kobus.
Intimate knowledge of the soils and an understanding of the interaction between nature and vine with viticulture and winemaking practices focused on expressing the unique estate terroir, lie at the heart of the estate’s leading status in premier winemaking.
The JMB Cabernet Franc 2019 is made from a single vineyard, planted in 2003 and managed with particular care, from pruning right through to harvesting, ensuring a low yield and premium quality fruit. The grapes were picked at optimum ripeness and allowed to ferment naturally with wild yeast. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was transferred to new 300-litre French oak barrels where it was left to mature for 27 months. The result is full-bodied and complex, with excellent fruit and wood-integration.
The Estéanna 2019 is made from vineyards planted in 1998 and 2003 respectively. The vineyards are pampered from pruning to harvesting to ensure a low yield and premium quality fruit. The grapes were picked at optimum ripeness and fermented naturally with wild yeast. After malolactic fermentation, it matured for 24 months in new 300-litre French oak barrels. Rietvallei Estéanna 2019 comprises 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Cabernet Franc – full-bodied, complex with excellent fruit and wood integration. Well-rounded and showing beautifully in its youth but with the structure and fruit to mature very well.