“We try for seed ripeness at the lowest possible sugars,” says Kleine Zalze cellarmaster Johan Joubert during a workshop featuring the 2005 to 2010 vintages of both his Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz held yesterday.
Ripeness is everything for Joubert and alcohols by volume for both wines regularly exceed 15%. He’s particularly concerned about making sure the pyrazine count on his Cab are kept low – opening up of the canopy in the vineyard is key here but not too much so. “We want diffuse sunlight around the bunch zone. Too much sun and you get seed ripeness but also a drop in anthocyanins.”
The Cab and the Shiraz are from single sites on the actual Kleine Zalze property and both are highly decorated locally and internationally but my impression was that the Cab was more convincing than the Shiraz. In fact, it is a belief that I hold with increasing conviction that Stellenbosch Cab is not sufficiently celebrated while Stellenbosch Shiraz is pretty dull compared to just about anywhere else in the country. Whereas the former give you depth of flavour and proper structure, the latter are too often fruit bombs with not enough detail…
Wine of the day was the Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, among the top 10 in my recent Cabernet Sauvignon Report (see here).
Yesterday, it showed red and black berries plus cigar box and some floral fragrance. It’s full but balanced with great fruit purity, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Abv 15.46%, RS 2g/l, TA 6.7g/l and pH 3.73.