Mirari – To wonder at.
Zero Point Six
After soil tests in 2002, we were able to make choices regarding rootstocks, cultivars and clones. Early in 2003, a giant ripper prepared the soil and on 26 July 2003, we planted the vines.
1100 Shiraz, 500 Mourvèdre, 100 Tempranillo and 100 Viognier “stokkies”
This is in the right ratio for the final blend and, as they ripen at different times, it spreads the workload out a bit.
The Atlantic Ocean is 12 km away as the crow flies, so we have a relatively cool climate, but the vinyard is situated on a north-east facing slope and is surrounded by hills which ensure sufficient sunlight and heat for the grapes to ripen optimally. The soil has excellent water retention capacity and I’m proud to say it’s a dryland vineyard.
Hands on maintenance
I personally take care of the maintenance of the vineyard. This includes spraying with our bright orange baby Kubota called Trompie, pruning with a pair of fantastic battery-operated shears, and the canopy management tasks of shoot thinning, positioning and crop thinning. Every year we mulch the soil with straw to keep it healthy and cool. These practices lay the foundation for well-balanced vines that bear fruit of excellent quality.
We only make one wine – Mirari. A Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Viognier and Tempranillo blend.
Harvesting starts with Tempranillo usually in late February. In early March a team of seventeen ladies help me harvest the Shiraz and Viognier as early as daylight allows. Three guys do the heavy lifting and load the crates onto Saartjie, my beloved old Landrover. Dad drives her up to the cellar to keep the grapes cool.
The most time-consuming task is the sorting of the grapes.
So for the rest of the day and the next, each bunch is carefully scrutinized and green, broken or overripe berries are removed. Little screams in between usually indicate the discovery of an insect or spider, which means the protein content of the wine is lower than it would be without sorting. The Mourvèdre is harvested last and apart from the Shiraz and Viognier, the cultivars are vinified separately.
The wine is made as gently and naturally as possible. I allow the wild yeast on the skin of the berries to naturally ferment the sugar. Hand punch downs of the skin cap at four-hourly intervals for the next fourteen days lead to some sleep deprivation, but the enhanced contact between the skins and juice ensures good colour and flavour extraction. Another two to three weeks on the skins extract more tannin which helps with the mouth feel and age-ability of the wine.
Our traditional wooden basket press requires patience and cause very stained hands, but it eliminates the harsher elements in the skins and pips. Since I add minimal sulphur, the second fermentation is also able to occur naturally in the barrels.
The wine is then aged in a combination of new and old French oak barrels from several different coopers for twenty-four months and spends a further minimum of twelve months in the bottle prior to release.
Depending on the vintage, we make between 3000 and 5000 bottles of Mirari a year.
In summary, we only use our own grapes and apart from sulphur, there are no added acid, yeast, tannin or any additives that may alter the taste.
I hope this allows for a true reflection of our terroir.
Die wingerd is klein en die wyn is min,
maar my hart en siel is daarin.
May you have a memorable experience