Delaire Graff Estate’s winemaker, Morné Vrey, shares stories, outlooks and insight into this year’s harvest. While the 2020 harvest posed a number of challenges, the outlook on this vintage is bright with red varietals believed to be some of the best in recent years.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THIS HARVEST (BEFORE COVID-19)
The sudden ripening of most of the grapes during the middle of the traditional harvest season was the biggest challenge. It was tricky to manage all the different varietals coming in for sorting and pressing at the same time – the harvest was very condensed. We are accustomed to a semi-routine with how and when we the grapes are ready, and this year it was quite different.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THIS HARVEST?
Really great red wines. I was far more concerned in 2019 about our red wines, however the 2020 harvest has proved to be a fine one for red varietals. The grapes came in with brilliant colour and we had good extraction of juice. The volumes are higher on the red and, in general, we have enjoyed a bigger harvest than the previous year.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEMORY FROM THE 2020 HARVEST?
There was one day this year that we had to do something we have never done before as a result of the influx of grapes – run two sorting lines together. One with white grapes, and another with red grapes. It was all hands on deck and the day had to be carefully planned to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency to ensure all the grapes were in the cellar as soon as possible. I enjoyed this because the team and I were pushed to our limits and we pulled it off, together.
WHAT WILL YOU BE COOKING DURING THE LOCKDOWN.
We all have a surplus of time with the current lockdown and there is a general resurgence of artful cooking. As a family, we enjoy living the slow life, particularly after the rush of harvest. So we have been braai’ing a lot, and making slow-cooked meals as autumn has begun.
WHAT IS YOUR ESSENTIAL ‘LOCKDOWN’ WINE?
I am still enjoying white wines at the moment – easy to drink any time of day. As a winemaker, I am fortunate to have good friends in the industry and I am exploring a wonderful selection of various white wines at the moment.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING TO EAT DURING HARVEST?
Prior to Lockdown and on evenings when we work really late, I treat myself with a burger at Burger King.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR WINE GUILTY PLEASURE?
Roc de Cambes, a Bordeaux from France in the Cotes de Bourg appellation.
WE HAVE A FEW RELEASES HAPPENING THIS YEAR – WHICH WINE ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO RELEASE?
Our 2018 Merlot proves that it is possible for Stellenbosch to make a good Merlot. Coming from the oldest vineyard on the Estate, the soil and aspect played a vital role in the quality of the Merlot. Good concentration and flavour in the berries. (Due to be released mid-year).
YOUR FAVOURITE WINE IN OUR VINOTEQUE?
The older Delaire Graff Coastal Cuvée Sauvignon Blancs are brilliant. The wine has settled beautifully allowing for the secondary aroma profiles come more forward. Both our 2010 and 2012 vintages won Gold at the Concours Mondiall Challenge in France and this year the 2012 won best Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. It shows the great ageing potential of quality white wines.
WHAT MEAL PAIRS BEST WITH THE DELAIRE GRAFF COASTAL CUVÉE SAUVIGNON BLANC?
Normally I would say fresh west coast oysters, however with a more limited stock currently, a fresh summer salad will work beautifully alongside grilled prawns or fish on the braai. Perfect for a Saturday afternoon.
YOUR FAVOURITE PAIRING TO DO AT HOME WITH THE DELAIRE GRAFF BOTMASKOP?
With an older vintage of the Botmaskop, I would do a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb. With a younger vintage, a good ribeye on the fire is excellent. I usually braai my ribeye medium-rare and then let it rest for 5 minutes in a blend of olive oil and roasted rosemary.
THE DELAIRE GRAFF CABERNET FRANC ROSÉ IS THE FIRST OF EACH VINTAGE TO BE RELEASED, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 2020 VINTAGE OF THIS WINE?
I feel that it is going to be my favourite Rosé to date. It is full, ripe and has a beautiful flavour profile. Every year, one of the biggest challenges is the colour, and this year I am very proud of its hue. We harvested full, ripe grapes with good analysis. Due to the good quality of red wine grapes in our region in 2020, this wine being 100% Cabernet Franc really is going to be truly wonderful and is sure to sell out quickly!