Paardeberg is a somber, massive sprawling rise of granite that allows for a myriad of different slopes and expositions. It lies between Paarl and Malmesbury, and is recognised as one of the most exciting areas to be planted with vines in recent years. Vineyards here tend to produce wines of elegance and structural finesse, which is less robust than the fruit from the bordering Swartland area. A degree of minerality, for us the holy grail of a fine white wine, is found in both the Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc that are grown here. Generally the South-Western slopes are good for Sauvignon and Chenin, whereas the inland-facing slopes are better suited for reds, especially Shiraz.
Dominant through most of the Paarl region are the mountains. Magnificent in their bold, craggy stance, the Klein Drakenstein range forms an impressive backdrop to Paarl and Wellington, and although three main types of soil are found in the region, granite-based soils predominate against the mountain slopes. Generally the soils are a bit poorer than average, allowing for less vigour with lower yields and better quality. Being a bit further away from the ocean, temperatures are inclined to drop more than elsewhere in winter, allowing for a good winter rest resulting in even budding. Vineyards on the higher slopes are quite exposed to the South-Easter in the early growing season, allowing for natural cropping and better quality following on concentration of flavours
Traditionally a grain producing area, in summer the Swartland is marked by green pockets of vineyards clambering up the foothills of the various hills and pocket size mountains in the area. The various aspects allow for interesting blending components; in the past the region was mainly planted with bush vines, but trellising is increasingly adopted in this area. Soils are mostly a deep red, clay-rich shale with good moisture retention capability, which is important as water is relatively scarce and days are long and hot. Wines from this area focus on robust ful-bodied reds, mostly Pinotage and Shiraz, but in recent times wines of great elegance are also produced, especially on cooler South-facing slopes.
Our vineyards in these areas are concentrated in the Tygerberg region, some overlooking Table Bay. Deep soils, cooling sea breezes and night time mists are the most important beneficial factors. Our vineyards, covering the soft curves of the Tygerberg Hills mainly at higher altitudes, come under the influence of both the cooling Benguela current off the Atlantic to the West and, to a lesser degree, the breezes of False Bay to the South-East. These are ideal conditions for a precise, cool climate Sauvignon Blanc planted against the higher slopes and for Merlot, planted in the more protected valleys where there is a deep, fertile soil. Warmer slopes allow for a Cabernet Sauvignon of great distinction and concentration.
The climate is not totally dissimilar to the Drakenstein Mountain area, but the vineyards are less prone to wind damage. The soils are mostly sandy soils of Table Mountain sandstone origin and, whereas the granite based soils of the mountain slopes are generally better for reds, these sandy alluvial soils tend to be excellent for fruity white wines. The vineyards are quite protected from the elements and also benefit from an adequate water supply, which means that the wine profile is more consistent from one vintage to the next. In good years vineyards on the higher slopes can produce more elegant wines, but we can always depend on the fruitiness of the grapes from the valley vineyards.
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