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2017 was a hot and dry vintage, and the earliest vintage on record. Evening temperatures were particularly cool, allowing the vines to recover after the heat of the day. Crop levels were lower than normal, probably as a result of three consecutive hot and dry vintages. This resulted in extremely concentrated fruit, with small berries. The cool evenings resulted in low pH levels and very high acidities. Ripening in 2017 progressed very rapidly. These conditions are evident in the finished wines which were harvested at higher than normal sugar levels, but still with particularly low pH levels and elevated natural acid levels. The resultant wines are intensely flavoured showing ripe fruit characters, with good palate structure and an extraordinary length and palate persistence.
A bright yellow colour suggests a warm vintage. There is a green tint to the wine, which suggests a “coolness”, an indication of the cooler evenings which were particular to the 2017 vintage. The nose appears concentrated with an immediate burst of floral concentration and citrus blossom. Subtle hints of stone fruit and fresh honey are backed by a hint of struck flint, ginger spice and toasted nuts. The palate reveals an array of fresh sun ripened fruits. White peach, apricot, pear and golden delicious apple are evident, with subtle hints of nuts, freshly baked bread and allspice. The oak is exceptionally well integrated, giving the wine dimension and balance, whilst not being evident in any particular way.
The 2017 Quinta Essentia Chenin Blanc is drinking beautifully on release. Further cellaring for up to ten years from vintage will reward with a melding and development of the various elements into a highly complex taste profile. Expect to see rich honey notes, warm toasted nuts and freshly baked brioche as the wine matures.
Quinta Essentia is made from unique old vine Chenin Blanc vineyards grown on four special sites on the foothills of the mountains in and around Stellenbosch. The old vines produce optimally ripe fruit with excellent sugar and acid balance. Cool evening temperatures of the 2017 vintage resulted in elevated natural acidity allowing the option of picking at riper brix levels. The vineyards are all mature bush vines. The vines bear their fruit about 20 inches from the ground. The mature vines benefit from a naturally lower vigour, and thereby carry their fruit in full exposure to the sun, which results in great flavour concentration. All fruit is harvested by hand.
After arriving at the winery, fruit was chilled overnight to 10 degrees Celsius. Whole bunch pressing resulted in only the best juice being pressed from the bunches, with very light additions of sulphur on the pressed juice. The juice was naturally settled without the use of enzymes and transferred to a selection of French oak casks the following day. Fermentation occurs naturally and lasts for 8 to 24 weeks with periodic battonage.
After ferments had completed, the barrels were topped, given a moderate addition of Sulphur and “tight bunged” ontop of the gross fermentation lees.
The individual barrels were aged separately with barrel selection and blending being done in September 2017.
The Quinta Essentia blend is made from only the best barrels, after which the blend of different vineyards is matured for a further three months. The final blend was given a light fining and bottled with minimal filtration in January 2017.
300 Cases Produced