De Trafford, Straw wine 375ml 2012South Africa, Stellenbosch
The first of its kind in South Africa. Inspired by the great Vin de Paille of the Rhone valley and the Jura, first produced in 1997. They use exclusively Chenin Blanc, picked at normal (optimum) ripeness and laid out to dry on drying racks under the shade of the oak trees below the winery. Typically drying takes about 3 weeks and the sugars concentrate as well as the flavour and acidity (providing balance). Extracting the treacle like liquid from the shrivelled berries is back breaking work in their traditional basket press. This is followed by usually a year long fermentation due to the concentrated nature of the liquid. They usually bottle after nearly 2 years in barrels and the result is intensely sweet yet not cloying.
'16th vintage of trailblazing air-dried chenin dessert; naturally-fermented, oak-aged 12 in top form with appealing dried apricot, orange marmalade & honey notes, flinty hint; unashamedly sweet yet bright & uncloying. 11 more unctuous after ambrosial 10.' – Platter's Guide 2016, 4.5*
'Attractive bright gold colour. Great intensity and sweetness – one of our richest vintages. Dried apricot and lemon skin, some flintiness, but mostly complex honey and treacle. The palate is intensely sweet, fresh and lively with an oxidative complexity and a long finish. This vintage is best as a sweet treat on its own after a meal. A rewarding challenge to match with desserts!' – Winemaker
Winter 2011 was colder than usual, but with average rainfall resulting in excellent, even bud-break. De Trafford had good growth in spring, but poor weather (cold and rain) over the flowering period resulting in uneven flowering and berry set. De Trafford paid extra attention to green harvesting to help make up for this. Disease pressure was managed with well-timed sprays and open, small canopies. January was exceptionally hot, which really jolted the vines into ripeness. The ripening period of February and March was much cooler and close to perfect with little rain and no rot and they managed to get all the grapes onto the racks in the cool mornings at optimum ripeness - at 21°B to 23°B
The grapes were picked at optimum ripeness and laid out on drying racks in 70% shade for about 3 weeks. This allows the grapes to concentrate sugars, acids and flavours, before re-harvesting in the cool mornings. Fermented with natural yeasts and matured for 26 months using 50% new 225L French oak barrels. Racked while in barrel to remove heavy sediment and lightly bentonite fined.
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AG: Antonio Galloni of Vinous.com | AM: Allen Meadows of Burghound.com | CE: Christian Eedes of Winemag.co.za | DEC: Decanter | GS: Greg Sherwood MW | JR: JancisRobinson.com | NM: Neal Martin of Vinous.com OM: Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show | PG: Platter's Guide | TA: Tim Atkin MW | WA: Wine Advocate | WE: Wine Enthusiast | WS: Wine Spectator