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2018 was a dry vintage in the Cape. Thunderstorms in early spring added a lot of Nitrogen to the soils resulting in very healthy canopies entering the growing season. The daytime temperatures during the ripening period were cooler than what was experienced in the very hot 2016 and 2017 vintages, with relatively cool evenings. Conditions were very dry though, with vine stress management being key to success. Fruit harvesting tended to be very early in 2018, with a focus on bringing fruit into the winery with lower sugar levels and lower pH levels. The resultant wines have a lovely elegance and drinkability. Less power and structure than in 2017 and 2015, but generally, wines with a lovely softness and fruit purity.
A delicate yellow color with a hint of green suggests a vintage with good ripeness but good freshness. Fresh pineapple, yellow peach, litchi and a hint of gunsmoke greet the nose. Ripe orchard fruits are revealed on a medium-bodied palate that has lovely linearity and tension. The wine is poised and balanced, with a great combination of ripeness and mineral tension. Maturation in oak has resulted in characters of warm toasted brioche and roasted almonds, and the maturation on fermentation lees has given a creamy integration to all the flavor components.
The 2018 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 with mineral hints of flint.
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 vigor, and thereby carry their fruit in full exposure to the sun, which results in great flavor concentration. All fruit is harvested by hand.
Soils are sandstone and granitic origin, and result in intensely flavored fruit, that yields wines that are intense structured and very aromatic.
After arriving at the winery, the 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 sulfur 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” on top of the gross fermentation lees.
The individual barrels were aged separately with barrel selection and blending being done in November 2018.
The Quinta Essentia blend is made from only the best barrels, after which the blend of different vineyards is matured for a further two months in stainless steel. The final blend was given a light fining and bottled with minimal filtration in January 2019.