23 October 2017

WAVERLEY HILLS organic wine estate has announced the birth of new heirs to join its portfolio reserved exclusively for the best of the best. Produced from the 2016 vintage, this truly outstanding pair comprise of a Chardonnay and special red wine blend of grape varieties traditional to the famed French wine region of Bordeaux.

“We are very excited about the Bordeaux blend, which we’ve named De Huijsbosch after an ancient mountain stream on the property, and our new Chardonnay” says winemaker Johan Delport. “They truly reflect the essence of quality, boutique viticulture and winemaking that we practice, and that which the soils and vineyards of Waverley Hills are capable of.”

Renowned for its eco-friendly practices, Waverley Hills lies in the winegrowing region of Tulbagh in the Cape, at the foot of the soaring Witzenberg Mountains. The farm’s fertile, clay soils are thick with river stones, providing optimal drainage and excellent water retention. While all the vineyards are irrigated with pure spring water and located in the mountain’s natural watershed, variations in the landscape create diverse pockets of terroir suited to specific varieties. This diversity allows for the selection of only the very best grapes used for the premier Reserve range that now include the Waverley Hills Chardonnay 2016 and Waverley Hills De Huijsbosch 2016.

Grapes for the Waverley Hills De Huijsbosch 2016 came from low-yield vineyards that provide perfect concentration of aroma and flavour. Wines intended for the blend were made separately, matured for five months in French oak. They were then carefully blended for the final composition of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon and equal measures of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, which spent another 10 months maturing in French oak barrels.

“Waverley Hills is best known for producing wines with a unique style, extremely smooth with soft ripe tannins and robust fynbos characteristic. The Bordeaux blend fits the bill,” says Delport. “It has a bright red centre with a deep brick red edge. It’s balanced and structured with aromas of black currant, fynbos or garrique, oak and hints of mocha. To me, the palate is silky soft, like cream and black berries.”

As the name reflects, the Waverley Hills Chardonnay 2016 is dominated by the variety that is also used for the making of the farm’s MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) bubbly, but there’s a smidgen of Semillon “for added freshness and fruit,” says Delport.

The wine spent 15 months in new 300-litre oak barrels of which 60% was French and the remainder, Hungarian. As part of the vinification, the wine spent eight months on its lees in the barrels before being racked and returned to the barrels for a further seven months.

“There’s white tropical fruit and lemon peel on the nose, along with dried banana and nutty oak,” Delport says. “An aromatic flinty character gives the wine extra complexity. It’s full and well-balanced on the palate, with lingering fruit in the finish; just beautiful!”

The Waverley Hills Chardonnay 2016 and Waverley Hills De Huijsbosch 2016 will officially be launched to the Waverley Hills loyalty wine club members on 7 October, before distribution to wine stores and restaurants countrywide. Their cellar-door price is R100 and R130/bottle, respectively.

They join an auspicious collection of consistent award winners in Waverley Hills’ Reserve tier – the Waverley Hills Grenache, SMV (Shiraz, Mourvedre and Viognier) blend; Reserve Shiraz; and, Waverley Hills Méthode Cap Classique.

Waverley Hills established its first vines in 2000, spawned from a recycling initiative started almost 50 years prior by the Du Toit family founders in the 18th century building of the former Waverley wool and blanket factory. Long before recycling became the norm, the company known as Brenn-O-Kem, is now a leading recycler of wine industry waste – grape skins, seeds and lees.

Soon after the establishment of the estate, its independently certified organic approach began to see a significant turn-around on the property. The natural equilibrium returned to the land brought with it animals and birds, and a self-sustaining way to keep pests in check, Recognition followed. Waverley Hills was singled out for both exemplary farming practices and exceptional wine. It was the first organic wine producer to achieve the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative’s Champion status; and includes among its past accolades the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirit Awards Organic Trophy; and, SA Champion Shiraz at the SA Young Wine Awards.

Today, the 139ha farm is mostly occupied by mountain fynbos with 30ha under vineyard and some 10ha used for the cultivation of olives. Its modern winery surrounded by a landscaped fynbos garden, incorporates the wine tasting room; a restaurant that’s open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, and twice for dinners on Wednesdays and Fridays; and, a wedding chapel.