Catherine Marshall Wines is an Independent Wine Company producing hand-crafted, premium wines in the Elgin Valley along the Cape South Coast. The vines are grown in cool climate conditions, produce intense, bright, pure and fresh wines of character. Catherine Marshall is the first eponymous range in South Africa to be released by a woman winemaker.
Merlot, Cabernet Franc Blend from the Elgin Valley South Africa
Classic, restrained elegance with a mouth-filling fruit core and is seamlessly poised with pronounced aromatics of fresh black plums, mulberries, violets and pencil shaving minerality. Tannins are supple and well- structured with fresh acidity to support an opulent mid-palate for texture and balance.
The approach is classic restraint based on the Bordeaux’s right bank blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and is styled around the bright fruit paradigm where both varieties are grown in a cool, maritime climate prevailing in the Elgin Valley. Upfront red and black fruit aromatics are driven by careful and meticulous viticulture husbandry to maximise ripening of tannins without compromising fruit freshness.
Generally, the greatest examples of Merlot and Cabernet Franc are to be found in the Pomerol and St. Emilion regions of France. Merlot is extremely sensitive to heat and water stress which means that Elgin, being generally cooler than most wine grape growing regions, particularly night time temperatures is perfect for extending hang time to allow for more even vine and cluster ripeness without compromising acid levels and freshness. The Cabernet Franc vineyards are grown on predominantly Bokkeveld Shales with high iron content and Table Mountain Sandstone that is prevalent in the Elgin Valley basin. Both Merlot and Cabernet Franc produce fairly large clusters that can ripen unevenly. For optimal ripeness at harvest, consistent removal of unripe berries in the vineyard and enough spacing to allow for maximum sun ripening is implemented. All vines are vertically shoot positioned on 5 wire fence trellis system to support the vine architecture. The two clones of Merlot include French 348 and Italian 9 at 50% each. The Italian clone provides the robust, savoury and earthy undertones whereas the French clone provides the black fruit top note for flesh and opulence on the mid-palate. Canopy management is carefully manipulated with the focus on ripening the tannins optimally so that no green tannins are evident at harvest. Leaf removal around the bunch zone at the right time is implemented fairly close to harvest, weather permitting. Bunch thinning is also key and bunch selection at veràison is observed.
Bunches were de-stemmed and slightly crushed. Berries were hand sorted at the crusher. The mash was soaked overnight in 500kg batches before yeast activity began where colour and tannin extraction occurred. A commercial yeast strain best suited to these two varieties was inoculated and fermented in open-top vats. Juice and skins were punched down, (pigagé), and turned daily to control even heat distribution between the skin cap on top and must juice below for 20 days. Post-fermentation Maceration lasted three weeks for tannin polymerisation Once fermentation was completed, the vats were tasted and selected on tannin and flavour attributes and manually pressed in an 800kg capacity stainless steel basket press. The vat combinations selected were kept as separate fractions to create as many blending profiles as possible for the final assemblage. The wine was matured in 2nd and 3rd 225 and 300 litre French coopered casks for 17 months. Selected casks of both varieties were blended 57% Cabernet Franc 43% Merlot and lightly filtered to bottle.
French Onion Soup, Oxtail, Venison, Moroccan tagines, Classic Italian pasta, Lebanese Lamb, Ostrich, Japanese Miso
The mineral and gravel-like tannin texture will soften over time. Primary black fruit and spice will become more savoury and gamey as the wine matures. Maturation should peak in 10 years. Serve at 16-18' Celsius.
94 points Tim Atkin, 93 points John Platter.
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