Finding the Holy Grail area of Cabernet Franc - 15th August '23
1. Raka Cabernet Franc 2020
Analysis: pH 3.54, Total acidity 5.8g/l, Residual sugar 2.9g/l, Alcohol 14.5%.
Vineyard: the vineyards are planted on either side of the Klein River that flows through the valley on its way to the Atlantic Ocean in Walker Bay. This means that there are both north and south facing slopes under vines and even some vineyards facing to the west. The altitude varies between about 58m above sea level for the vineyards planted next to the river to 120m for the vineyards lying on the higher slopes.
Raka Cabernet Franc is bottled in limited quantities and only when we consider it superior quality. With these single varietals we “steal” a small volume of the best barrels that go into producing our blends.
Vinification: all grapes were handpicked and sorted before a pure yeast culture was inoculated. The juice was pumped over the skins 3 - 5 times per day for 5 days. Once fermentation was complete, the wine was drained of the primary lees and transferred to a resting tank. Malolactic fermentation and a brief settling period preceded the wine to a combination of 225 litre barrels of French oak types. The wine spent between 12- 14 months is barrel before bottling and labelling.
Description: liquorice and floral nuances with a slight sweet cherry smell on the nose. The palate has a cherry jam character and a sleek tannin grip.
2. Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2015 (This vintage picked up Gold Medals at the 2019 Michelangelo International and the 2019 Cabernet Franc Challenge.)
Analysis: pH 3.59, Total acidity 5.8g/l, Residual sugar 2.7g/l, Alcohol 15.37%.
Vineyards: Whalehaven Wines is the third oldest wine producer in the Hemel-en-Aarde region.
Vinification: the grapes were cold soaked for 4 days prior to fermentation. They were then pressed and put straight into barrels for Malo-lactic (secondary) fermentation. The wine was racked immediately after Malo and placed in mainly French (60%) and American (40%). The percentages were 1st (35%), 2nd (40%) and 3rd (25%) fill oak barrels for 12 months of maturation after which the wine was lightly filtered and bottled.
Description: dark red in colour with complementary aromas of dusty green peppers and sweet vanilla on the nose. Enticing flavours of ripe plums and dark forest floor berries on the palate.
3. Hermanuspietersfontein Swartskaap Cabernet Franc 2018
Analysis: pH 3.53, Total acidity 5.2g/l, Residual sugar 3.00g/l, Alcohol 14.42%.
Vineyards: the vineyards are 247-277m above sea level. On well-drained soil, with good water retention, and important percentage of clay within topsoil. The grapes were harvested at 5 tons per hectare (30hl/ha).
Vinification: the grapes spent 3-4 days being cold macerated before fermentation, with +- 3 punch-downs per day. The fermentation temperature was 24-26ºC and Malo-lactic fermentation was in stainless steel tanks. Maturation was in 25% new and 25% second fill French barriques barrels (225l), 25% in new and 25% second/third fill French oak pigeon barrels (500l) for 24 months. The wine is then matured for a further 24 months before release.
Description: the colour of the wine is violet to ruby red. The aroma profile: Bright red and purple fruit, raspberries and blackcurrants; black olive; green herbal spice. The palate profile: Generous offering; density and fruit intensity; milk chocolate praline; supple and full with persistent length; sweet herbal spice (rosemary, thyme, mint) providing freshness on palate.
4. Morgenster Cabernet Franc 2021 (Cabernet Franc Challenge 2023 Top 6)
Analysis: pH 3.54, Total acidity 5.8g/l, Residual sugar 2.6g/l, Alcohol 14%.
Vineyards: moderate weather throughout the season and during harvest time resulted in slower ripening grapes that developed remarkable colour and flavour. This slow and steady harvest allowed for the picking of the grapes at their ideal ripening stage, perfect for primary aromas and the development of the berries, ensuring outstanding quality. The vineyards are situated near the foothills of the Helderberg Mountain in Somerset West.
Vinification: the grapes were hand-picked, destemmed and sorted into the tank. Care is taken to work gently with the grapes after the peak of fermentation to achieve a wine with a firm tannin structure. The wine has been aged for 12 months in French oak barrels
Description: on the nose is a classical combination of cassis, cranberries and spicy undertones. The wine is silky smooth on the palate, with soft tannins combined with a finish of red fruit and spice.
5. Journey’s End V5 Cabernet Franc 2020
Analysis: pH 3.57, Total acidity 5.38g/l, Residual sugar 3.29g/l, Alcohol 14%.
Vineyards: the grapes were hand-picked from block 4 which lies 180m above sea level on Tukulu dominant soils with a high decomposed granite content. The vines grow vigorously producing 12 tons/ha annually. Methodical leaf removal is practiced around the grape bunches to expose the grapes to the sun which decreases the excessive green characteristics in the eventual wine.
Vinification: the grapes were processed immediately after picking early in the morning, they were hand sorted and destemmed before filling the 5000l truncated open top casks for fermentation. Fermentation in these vessels tend to finish quickly lasting 10-15 days between 18 – 26˚C. During fermentation, suspended dry skins are gently punched back into the ferment ensuring gentle tannin extraction. The wine is then pressed off the skins and undergoes malolactic fermentation as well as a 14-month barrel maturation period in second fill French oak. This wine required no stabilizing and is vegan friendly, Filtered and bottled on 13 February 2023.
Description: this wine displays intense ripe cherry, savoury olive and wild fynbos characters on the nose rounded up by a sweet cinnamon spice from generous oak maturation. Great balance is exhibited on the palate with coastal freshness, Mediterranean minerality and soft powdery tannins and a lengthy finish. Best drunk now and until 2031.
6. Rainbows End Cabernet Franc Reserve 2020
Analysis: pH 3.50, Total acidity 5.9g/l, Residual sugar 2.8g/l, Alcohol 14%.
Vineyards: Rainbow’s End has the perfect Terroir for Cabernet Franc. This has just been supported by the SA Terroir Awards and SA Wine of the Month Club electing our Cabernet Franc 2012 as the best Cabernet Franc in SA! Clone 1 and 214 French clones were used. All the grapes were selected by hand from a single vineyard high on the slopes of the Jonkershoek Mountain (540m).
Vinification: maturation has been 12 Months in 45% new, 30% second fill and 25% 3rd fill French oak barrels. Two racking’s during wood maturation.
Description: intense dark purple colour. Oak perfume with blackberry and hazel nut on the nose. Broad smooth tannins. Intense rich fruit and juicy palate.