The historic Graaff family-owned and run De Grendel farm is situated on the slopes of the Tygerberg mountain just outside Cape Town and grapes from its maritime vineyards are supplemented from other family-owned vineyards and contracted growers in cooler areas – such as for this Chardonnay.
The grapes for this wine are grown high on the Witzenberg Mountain range in Ceres, at an altitude of 960 meters above sea level. Here, the continental climate, with cooler night-time temperatures and hotter daytime temperatures during the growing season result in slower ripening and concentrated fruit. In winter, the well-drained soft yellow shale soil is often covered with a layer of snow, providing the perfect conditions for dormant vines – a much-needed resting and recovery period before the growth season starts.
Handpicked at the break of dawn, selected grapes are destemmed, crushed, and lightly pressed at De Grendel with a recovery of only 650 litres per ton. After two days of settling, the juice is inoculated and transferred to 225 litre French Oak barrels for fermentation. The wine is barrel-aged ‘sur lie’ for six months whilst undergoing ‘bâtonnage’. Bâtonnage is the method of stirring up the lees and takes place twice a week before malolactic fermentation and once a month after malolactic fermentation to enhance the mouth feel and structure of the wine.