Worm farms, biodynamics and a serious Syrah at Waterkloof

I have just written up a lengthy article on Waterkloof, the Stellenbosch winery owned by UK wine merchant Paul Boutinot. It’s a really great project that just beginning to hit its stride, and is one of the few South African wineries to have embraced biodynamics. In this blog post, I wanted to draw out three things that stood out from the visit.

The first was a worm farm. I know this isn’t about wine, but I was really taken by it. All the cardboard waste is put in tubs where it is digested by worms, and in the process turns into a soil/compost-like material that can be used in the vineyard. The pictures here illustrate the process, as does the short film above.

The second is the difference between two adjacent vineyards, one which had been farmed conventionally for many years before being managed biodynamically, and the other which had been managed biodynamically from the outset. The pictures illustrate the difference in the soil structure: the vineyard that was biodynamically run from the start has much more friable soil. And these pictures were taken of patches of soil some 20 metres apart. 

The third is Waterkloof’s Circumstance Syrah 2009. It’s a fabulous expression of Syrah, and I rated it consistently on two occasions, in March and September.

Waterkloof Circumstance Syrah 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Whole bunch fermented, punched down delicately twice a day and 35 days on skins. Wonderfully fresh, meaty, slightly minty raspberry and blackberry nose. Lush but with some nice pepperiness. The palate is ripe and sweet yet fresh and peppery with lovely structure. A beautiful wine. 94/100 (03/12)

Waterkloof Circumstance Syrah 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Ripe, meaty and aromatic, with lovely black cherry fruit. The palate is fresh and powerful, ripe and smooth-textured, yet it’s vital with lovely meatiness, some pepper notes and a hint of clove. So fresh and vivid. 94/100 (09/12)

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