Whether you drink a lot of wine or a little, you may have heard the term “natural wine” lately. Fueled in part by health-consciousness, in part by environmental concerns and in part by drinkers who just like the taste, the growing popularity of natural wines — a small but significant niche that includes organic wines, biodynamic wines and wines made with minimal intervention — is hard to ignore.
In our previous newsletters we spoke about Organic and biodynamic farming and if you missed it click here to get yourself updated. These are all categories of what is called “natural wine” and minimum intervention is the latest addition to the progression toward “Natural wine.”
Minimal intervention: At its most basic, wine is what you get when the wild (or indigenous) yeast on the skin of grapes converts the sugar inside the fruit to alcohol. That’s it. Minimal intervention is a relatively radical winemaking approach that tries to do as little as possible beyond that. In much of the winemaking world today, there are nearly 200 commonly used — and entirely legal — additives: sugar to increase alcohol content; inoculated (or commercially cultured) yeast to kick-start fermentation; sulfites as a preservative; gelatin for texture; colorants; antimicrobial agents; and other ingredients.
We are fortunate that one of the pioneers heading up the minimal intervention challenge can be found in our own backyard AKA – The Walker Bay Herbarium Project where Maanschijn crafts wine.
Once abandoned, this century-old building gained its second breath in 2013. A devastating forest fire exposing this forgotten solitary gem which had been in the Mylrea family for generations. As repairs were underway, on this piece of land next to the Klein River lagoon, the inspiration came to repair and refashion the building as a place where Doug and Paul could have a home for a wine enterprise.
The heritage building, inside which Maanschijn crafts its wines, has lived many lives. Previously a stable, it was also later inhabited by a Walker Bay local, Oom Sampie, who, within its walls, used to dry an assortment of indigenous flowers for sale at the local market.
It is in honouring this forgotten treasure that the team at Maanchijn decided to name their premium range Herbarium.
The Herbarium Project had a very definite goal from the get-go; to only source grapes from within the Walker Bay region.
The advantage of sourcing their grapes from within the Walker Bay region allows more time and effort in the vineyards they source from, working alongside the farmers. Focusing on minimal intervention, this dynamic due is producing wines that are made with passion and great character.
On Maanschijn you will also find the Hero of their whites: The Stonefield Vineyard.
o for reasons not hard to guess, this organically farmed hectare of Sauvignon blanc, located on Maanschijn, is now managed and tended to by Paul and Doug. This fruit is now destined for greatness at the hands of the Maanschijn team.
Three varieties make up this Cape Red blend: Pinotage, Mourvèdre and Syrah. The vineyards, all located in the southern, cooler Walker Bay wine district, are surrounded by the rich expanse of the Cape’s fynbos kingdom.
Winemaking: The fruit was fermented spontaneously, in whole bunches, for seven to ten days before being pressed to aged French oak. Maturation lasted nine months. The wine was blended and bottled, by hand, without fining or filtration.
Three varieties make up this Cape White blend: Chenin blanc, Verdelho and Sauvignon blanc. The vineyards, all located in the southern, cooler Walker Bay wine district, are surrounded by the rich expanse of the Cape’s fynbos kingdom.
Winemaking: The fruit was pressed, settled and racked to aged French oak. Fermentation occurred spontaneously, with maturation lasting nine months, on lees. The wine was blended and bottled, by hand, without fining or filtration.