Here's the latest from Gyles Webb and the team at Thelema in SA. "The rain this winter seems to have fallen on weekends. This wasn't much fun for those with weekend plans but it was great for our pruning teams. We can't prune in wet weather because horrible little spores of a fungus named eutypa lata get released in rainy weather, and they make a bee-line for fresh pruning wounds, which they infect, causing the vine to die a slow death. Varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon are highly susceptible to this die-back disease, which has a rather charming Afrikaans name: tandpyn (toothache). It's not so charming to have your vines suffering from it however, as there isn't a cure once infected. So we choose to prune on dry days only, and we had lots of these, so much so that by the first week in August we had finished all the pruning on both properties. There are those who like to prune much later, but I'm happy to have this job behind us so that we can climb into the suckering process (removal of unwanted shoots) at an early stage and create that perfect canopy that I dream about every season.
"Sounds as though we aren't doing anything in the cellar, but that is far from true. We had another big vintage this year which prompted me to take on another full-time winemaking assistant, Duncan Clarke, who celebrated his new post by getting married. The 2010 wines are terrific; our Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc is the best we've had for many a year, and all the reds in barrel are very promising. The wines from our Elgin property, Sutherland, continue to impress, and the reds in particular are better than we imagined.
"While on the topic of Sutherland: many of our customers have become confused by the fact that we produce wines from two properties, one named Thelema and the other Thelema Sutherland, with fairly similar labels. This has prompted our marketing team to come up with a distinct Sutherland label from now on, which will be launched in early September. Hope you like the result of the packaging.
"And we certainly hope you like the new products! We are very excited to launch a new white wine, the Sutherland Viognier/Roussanne 2009, which was fermented in barrel, and is just delicious, and three red wines, Sutherland Pinot Noir 2009 (very limited quantities, I'm afraid), which is light, as one would expect from a first-crop wine, but has pure varietal expression and lovely balance, Sutherland Syrah 2008, medium-bodied, cracker-jack spicy mouthful and Sutherland Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot 2008 which is a big, brooding bloke that might require a few years to settle. The Sutherland range is completed with the Chardonnay 2009, the Sauvignon Blanc 2010 and the Rhine Riesling 2009.
"From the Stellenbosch property we will be releasing the usual suspects, including a super 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, another refreshing Muscat de Frontignan, the off-dry 2009 Rhine Riesling and a lovely 2009 Chardonnay. The reds this year are very impressive with a classic 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, another minty Mint 2008, a very bold Merlot 2008 and the surprise package, the 2007 Shiraz, which is by far the best Shiraz we've done from this property. These reds are complemented by our Mountain Red 2007, which is fruity and easy on the pocket."
More Thelema news here : www.thelema.co.za