CELBRATING 150 YEARS WITH NEW PREMIER WINE

Coinciding with its 150th anniversary this year, the Rietvallei Wine Estate in Robertson has released two single vineyard wines under a new label.

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The wines, a Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay, are Rietvallei’s first wild-fermented wines and according to proprietor and cellar master Kobus Burger represent a highlight in the Estate’s history of making fine wine in the Robertson Valley.

“These two wines are a culmination of a vision my late father Johnny Burger and I had when I joined him on Rietvallei just over 10 years ago,” says Burger. “Together we sought the finest vineyard sites on the farm with the aim of making two single vineyard products representing the finest Rietvallei has to offer. The culmination is a Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay bottled under a new label named JMB – my father’s initials – aimed at the premier wine market and honouring the Rietvallei heritage.”

The JMB Cabernet Franc 2011 and JMB Chardonnay 2014 were grown, made and bottled on Rietvallei Estate, of which Kobus Burger is the sixth generation owner.

“Both vineyards are managed towards a low yield of grapes offering supreme expression of both variety and terroir,” says Burger. “The Cabernet Franc vineyard yields 5t a hectare, while the Chardonnay provides 8t of fruit. In the cellar the wines were given a minimum-intervention approach, including the withholding of inoculation allowing natural yeasts to prompt and sustain fermentation.”

The JMB Cabernet Franc, harvested in 2011, was fermented in open tanks with manual punch-downs ensuring the integration of skin, juice and lees. Once dry, the wine was placed in 300 litre vats of French oak for 26 months, with only the best barrels selected for the final product.

“Cabernet Franc is not a common variety in the Robertson region, but on Rietvallei the chalky soils and the relatively undulating terrain exposed to southerly breezes allow the grapes to set, grow and ripen evenly under ideal conditions,” says Burger. “The result is superb quality fruit ensuring a wine of succulence and freshness, the JMB 2011 being a highlight in Rietvallei’s red wine history.”

As one of the first wine farms in Robertson to plant the variety, Rietvallei has a reputation for Chardonnay.

“The JMB 2014 is, however, a new Chardonnay direction as the character of the single vineyard, wild yeast fermentation and the aging in new 300 litre oak vats brings a complexity and fruit-expression we have not seen here before,” says Burger. The 300 litre vats allow for a greater wine-to-wood ratio, balancing exposure to new wood ensuring the fruit and verve is maintained while the barrel brings structure and dimension to the Chardonnay.”

Burger says that while drinking superbly now, both wines will mature magnificently if stored under the correct conditions.

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