Harvest Report 2020
The harvest this year was bookended by unusual events outside of our control: A cooler than normal December and January meant that we started a week later, and the national lockdown announced in March meant that we harvested the last varietal in just two days. The results were exceptional.
Harvest started late, on the 30th January, because of these summer cool spells. This was, in fact, good news! It led to a higher natural acidity in the white wines as well as the Pinotage. The Pinotage was picked earlier and at a lower sugar content – to make our Pinotage blanc and Rosé wines. An anomaly was the fact that Chardonnay ripened earlier than the Sauvignon blanc and was harvested first.
The growth season had been abnormally wet, with quite a few days recording more than 10 mm rainfall and high humidity – the perfect conditions for downy and powdery mildew. We were blessed to escape such diseases, while the rest of the industry struggled with fungal infections and ensuing grey rot of the berries, with the very susceptible Chardonnay badly affected.
The cool days were offset with a few heat waves in February that accelerated the ripening of the red cultivars. The Pinotage was harvested with good phenolic ripeness and was soon followed by the Shiraz and Merlot. Good upfront fruit and very linear tannins with a concentrated core and depth seem to characterise all the red wines this vintage.
The Cabernet Sauvignon came in last, as always, and for the first time in my career I had to factor in a lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus. I made the call to harvest two days before the lockdown ensued, and we were very blessed to be able to harvest all the grapes in two days, phenolically ripe and with good sugar levels. As I’m writing this, the Cabernet Sauvignon is still fermenting in the tanks. And as you walk into the cellar, you’re greeted with an amazing medley of berry notes, blueberry, blackcurrant, raspberries and cherry – a scent that brings a smile to any winemaker’s face.
After three years of drought we are happy to report that the tonnage has increased without any sacrifice of quality. This means that there will be more of your favourite Aaldering wine to enjoy from the 2020 vintage.