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Kloovenburg Grenache Noir

Kloovenburg's claim to fame

Kloovenburg is the oldest registered property in Swartland – a pretty nifty claim to fame especially as it's only by a mere half hour. Registration took place over 300 years ago on the 26th September 1704, and considering the first records of grapes being pressed in South Africa dates back to 1659, this estate plays a significant part in history. Today, the farm is run by third-generation family owner, Pieter du Toit, who is very keen to promote the wonders of the now 'on trend' Swartland region through his wines and other farm produce such as figs and olives.

"We are a small boutique family owned farm, thus the responsibilities are everything form grapes to the end product. We are situated in the Swartland and my focus is mainly on the cultivars that do well in our dry and hot growing conditions. Southern Rhone cultivars do well like Grenache, Carignan, Shiraz, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and off course Chenin blanc". Jolandie Fouché, Winemaker.

The Swartland region accounts for *13.6% of South Africa's vine plantings (*WoSA). Kloovenvburg is based on the edge of Kasteelberg, the mountainous granite fin slicing through the wheat-belt that overshadows the small town of Riebeek-Kasteel. Specifically, the farm is in the ward of Riebeekberg. Here, local shale, schist and granite soils form the base to most of Kloovenburg’s vineyards which for decades have been plated with Shiraz, Chardonnay and other classical local cultivars. More recently though, they have increased plantings of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir and Carignan. Grenache has been a real winner as it has adapted so well to the harsh drought conditions of the Western Cape and produces stunning wines despite the youthfulness of its vines.

Schist... this stuff sparkles!

Since 2014, the hugely-talented Jolandie Fouché has been Kloovenburg’s winemaker… and her energy and passion for this evolving region is evident through the amazing wines she lovingly crafts. Heaped with heritage, sitting amongst site specific cultivars, and in the hands of Jolandie 'what an awesome winemaker' Fouché, Kloovenburg is definitely a watch this space winery delivering some of the Swartland’s most contemporary, serious and delicious wines.

"Kloovenburg - family comes first, team work is dream work, it's the most beautiful place in the Swartland". Jolandie Fouché

What makes Kloovenburg different to other Swartland wineries?

  1. They are the oldest grape growing farm in the Swartland region Est 1704.
  2. They grow all grapes themselves on the farm, make the wine on the farm and also bottle on the farm. They don’t buy in any fruit which is not a common thing in the Swartland.
  3. They just received BWI Champion status, the first farm in the Swartland to accomplish this.

The Swartland

According to WOSA, this is how best to sum up the Swartland region:

Traditionally a grain-producing area, in summer the Swartland district is marked by green pockets of vineyards clambering up the foothills of the mountains (Piketberg, Porterville, Riebeek and Perdeberg) and along the banks of the Berg River. In the past, the region was planted mainly to bushvines but trellising is increasingly being adopted due to advances in management strategies and quality considerations.

The Swartland literally translated means ‘the black land’ and the area takes its name from the now endangered indigenous renosterbos (rhino bush) which once turned the landscape a dark colour at certain times of the year. The district was traditionally a source of robust, full-bodied red wines and high quality, fortified wines. The Swartland Independent Producers (SIP) is a coming together of a group of like-minded producers working to express a true sense of place in the wines of the Swartland. Click here to read more about the framework they work within.

In recent times, some exciting award-winning wines have emerged, both red and white, and the area continues to produce top port-style wines. Increasing percentages of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are being grown here, as well as Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. It has four designated wards, Malmesbury, Riebeekberg, Riebeeksrivier and St Helena Bay. The district of Swartland borders Piketberg to the north, which is not dissimilar in both geography and climate.

Kloovenburg Grenache Noir

We've chosen Kloovenburg Grenache Noir because quite simply, it's stunning.

"This sublimely satisfying Grenache Noir is a standout in the Kloovenburg portfolio. It's a serious and contemporary wine lovingly crafted to deliver elegance and purity in every sip. Amazing!" Robin Naylor, Product Manager - South Africa.

This wine really expresses exactly where it's from and also [you can't tell anybody this...], because of all the interesting challenges this grape variety brings, it's Jolandie's favourite Kloovenburg wine to make!

Jolandie Fouché

Interestingly, this Grenache Noir cultivar was originally planted to use alongside other red Rhône varietals Kloovenburg blend into their 'Eight Feet' Red wine. However, in 2015, Jolandie tasted through the barrels to choose components for this blend and instantly discovered the huge potential the Grenache Noir offered... so she kept two barrels aside of the single cultivar and bottled it!

Jolandie loves Grenache so much she regards picking it on her birthday as a special treat to herself.

"I am a harvest baby and thus my birthday is in mid harvest. You get use to the fact that you never celebrate your birthday, so to give myself a gift, I try to pick Grenache on my actual birthday. Happy birthday to me from mother nature. I love Grenache". JF

Grenache Noir adores hot and harsh weather which is good thing considering South Africa's parched and increasingly drought stricken landscape.

"Grenache needs buckets full of sunshine and heat to ripen and the Swartland has trucks full of that! The Swartland reaches temperatures as high as 45°C during the ripening period so the climate is perfect for Grenache. Also, Grenache loves low vigour soil… and given Kloovenburg is situated on the slopes of the Riebeek mountain which is dominated by schist soil, Grenache is very at home here". JF
"Grenache is a grape that wants attention and will reward you if you do give it the respect, love and care that it deserves!" JF
Top left: Pieter du Toit and Jolandie Fouché in the Grenache Noir vineyard ¦ Top right: 3 year old bush vine Grenache Noir ¦ Bottom left: view overlooking Swartland from Kloovenburg's Grenache Noir vineyards ¦ Bottom right: Grenache Noir on harvest day

Schist - "under the shale umbrella... Ella!"

The Vineyard

Kloovenburg Grenache Noir is crafted from bush vines planted in 2011 on a gently sloping (10.1 degree), warm north and north east facing, 1.4 hectare, low yielding (6 tons/ha), single block (Block 89) vineyard. This site was chosen because it receives long day light hours (on average between 12.1 - 12.3 hours), high solar radiation (measured at 5400), and sits at a approximately 300 metres above sea level - this altitude allows variation between day and night temperatures to slow down ripeness and also keep natural acidity for longer. Vines are planted in high density which increases root competition and therefore naturally controls vigorous growth and improve micro canopy climate.

Top: Kloovenburg block.¦ Middle left: Altitude ¦ Middle centre: Aspect ¦ Middle right: Curvature of slope ¦ Bottom left: Flow direction & accumulation ¦ Bottom righy: Day length in hours

How It's Made

Grapes are hand-picked during the early morning hours to beat the harsh heat of the day, then cooled overnight in a temperature controlled room at 5°C. 70% of the grapes are crushed and destemmed, whilst the remaining 30% is fermented as whole clusters. Ripe stem tannins provide good structure which add freshness and are also important for aging .

A three day cold soak covered with a CO₂ blanket at 9°C follows. Cold soak promotes fruit and freshness and sets colour prior to alcoholic fermentation. Natural fermentation takes place in open fermenters. Natural fermentation encourages the must to ferment slower and thus temperatures don’t exceed 25°C which helps produce aromatic and fragrant Grenache’s. Extraction is obtained by light punch-downs (pigéage) twice a day.

After fermentation is completed, the wine is left on the skins for another seven days (to improve colour stability), then pressed to old 300L oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation is completed in the barrel. The wine is then racked from the lees and given a low dose of sulphur. The wine spends a total of 10 months in barrels before it is bottled - unfined and unfiltered.

"We use old barrels because it is neutral and limits oxidation." JF
Top left: Jolandie with her small batches of Grenache ¦ Middle left: Whole bunch Grenache ¦ Top right/middle left: Basket press with free run Grenache juice ¦ Bottom left: Grenache after malolactic fermentation ¦ Bottom left: 1 tonne fermenters ¦ Bottom right: Grenache after pressing.

Meet the Winemaker

Here's a bit of insight into Jolandie Fouché, the young, keen, extremely talented winemaker who loves life (and wine making).

"I'm passionate, focused, determined, and once I have made a decision or commitment I will do everything to follow through to reach the end goal"
  • Jolandie has two Labradors whom she absolutely adores!...Cinsaut (Golden Retriever) and Simba (Chocolate Labrador).
  • Her favourite dish in the world is pizza, her first CD was Roxette, she can juggle with two lemmons, she prefers Dinosaurs to dragons, her sporting hero is "Serena Williams = domination", and the most interesting place she has visited is "My sisters brain when she is pregnant!" (Note/ Jolandie is a twin)
  • Her first car was "A Toyota Tazz, her name was Hol Marie and she made weird noises when you drove her. She had only 4 gears: No.1 was for Sunday driving, No. 2 for racing, No. 3 for overtaking a truck on the highway, and No. 4... I don’t know, I never tried because she started to shake above 80km/hr".
  • She graduated from Elsenburg, Stellenbosch in 2008, was assistant winemaker at Saronsberg in Tulbagh from 2010-2014, then moved on to Kloovenburg Vineyards to be closer to her boyfriend (now husband) in Swartland.
  • The Swartland was where Jolandie grew up and coming home was a dream come true.
  • What Jolandie loves about Kloovenburg is that she has "the freedom to express myself in every aspect of the wine making process. I also prefer to work with Rhone cultivars and we've got plenty of them here to keep me happy. I call Kloovenburg 'Little Rhone' ".
  • Jolandie was drawn to and loves wine making because of the balance between nature and chemistry... "Because we work so close to Mother Nature, every season and harvest is different with new adventures and challenges. The creative part, working with your hands, meeting new people and travel off course also drew me in".

When asked for a quote that best sums her up, one from Charles Bukowski was given:

"She's mad but she's magic. There's no lie in her fire." Charles Bukowski

And finally...

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