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SA X Trail Estate: Part 2

Written by Mackenzie Brisbois
Scouting: Roodeberg Vineyard on Waaihoek Road

The farm is located in the Breedekloof Wine Region of South Africa and is owned by Gerrie Van Zyl (brother to our famed Canadian Winemaker Marlize Beyers). The Breedekloof region has about 14% of South Africa’s vine plantings, with a huge portion of these being Chenin Blanc. I couldn’t believe the vines that spanned amazingly long vistas and were everywhere you looked!

The terroir comes from the nearby Breede River and the surrounding mountain ranges. The days can be quite hot, but the mountain ranges have a moderating effect, blocking out some afternoon sunlight, resulting in cool evening temperatures, creating a diurnal temperature change. The weather changes quickly and in the few hours on my first visit it changed from bright sun to clouds rolling over the mountains to light drizzle! The soil types can range from sandier on the valley floor to rockier as you head up the slopes of the mountains.
The Roodeberg vineyard has sandy soil on the top layer, that dries quickly with the winds, but is mixed with Malmesbury shale and sandstone. The street name, Waaihoek, means blowing at an angle, and it IS windy!!! Quicker drying conditions and less disease pressure are added benefits of the wind. There isn’t much need for leaf pulling as the leaves are needed for protection from the hot daytime sun.
The Varieties
Chenin Blanc was planted in the 2000s and is one of a few blocks to survive recent fires. If harvesting fruit from the Breedekloof there is a requirement to make Chenin! I’ve had a lot of Chenin blanc that drink like an average white wine, but since coming to South Africa I’ve really explored the range of better produced Chenin’s. The grape itself can have beautiful citrus notes with ample weight to the palate. I’m looking forward to coaxing out the beauty that seems to disappear on so many quick to market Chenins.  
Clairette Blanche - This block planted in the 1980s is a bit of a forgotten vine in South Africa, somewhat tossed aside. I immediately wanted to try my hand at winemaking when I saw these wild vines. The grapes are somewhat more oval than regular vinifera grapes and the inside of the grape is relatively pulpy – could be interesting work pressing!

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