Winemaker: Attie Louw
Background: The Breedekloof wine region is recognised for producing outstanding wines and especially their appealing Chenin Blanc’s! As a result
Attie Louw from Opstal Winery in Slanghoek along with a group of 12 fellow wine makers in the area formed Breedekloof Makers. Their commitment is to produce quality wines from the region, as well as highlighting the diverse terroir pockets. According to Attie the initiative started three years ago with the idea to craft small, boutique productions of Chenin Blanc in limited volumes. Attie and his fellow 12 members have committed to each making a limited volume of Chenin Blanc from grapes grown on specially selected sites on the members various properties.
“Why Chenin Blanc? It is the staple white grape in the region,” he says. “Most of the wine farms in the Breedekloof are family owned, and some of them have been farming with Chenin for seven to eight generations. This personal track record with the grape extends to the various terroirs suited to Chenin in the valley. In the lower regions the soil is sandy with gigantic river pebbles, while higher up you find broken rock and sandstone. Up in Slanghoek rainfall exceeds 1000mm a year, while down in the valley they get 600mm.
“A general feature of this area, is the slower ripening the grapes undergo due to the region being closed off by the various mountain ranges that allow the cooler night air to be trapped” says Louw.
“Subsequently our Chenins take longer to ripen, gaining an extra dimension and palpable complexity, allowing for superb expression.”
The diversity in terroir is matched by the various approaches the winemakers used in the cellar. “Every winemaker is urged to express him and herself,” says Louw. “Lees contact varies, as does time in barrel and general use of wood. And the results were better than we expected. Local and international wine critics took note of the variety found within the range of wines under the Chenin initiative, and this positive reaction prompted us to create Breedekloof Makers as an entity to promote Breedekloof.”
At the launch we tasted through the 12 members delicious Chenins which each offered their own identity by displaying different levels of concentration, minerality and their judicious use of wood.
However on the day the stand out for me was Attie Louw’s Opstal Carl Everson Chenin Blanc 2015. This is the 4th vintage of this 100% Chenin Blanc produced from 36 year old vines. The wine was fermented in oak barrels after which it was matured on the lees for a further 10 months prior to bottling. The oak used were 3rd; 4th and 5th fill 300l and 500l barrels.
Result: Refined and sophisticated with silky texture and good line of acidity adding balance.
When to drink: now till 2020
Drink with what: Attie recommended wild mushroom and parmesan risotto which I prepared the other evening! – it was perfect!
Expect to pay: R170.00