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Natural Fermentation

This week I wanted to highlight the fascinating process of natural fermentation. In these jars you see here we have the natural fermentation of GG’s Juice.

Who is GG? It is our oldest Chenin vineyard planted in 1974, however the name has layers of meaning at Compagnes Drift Farm. The first GG was Govenda & Geffen, two families who once owned the Farm, then came my maternal grandparents iGoki and iGramps (their Zulu names) and we once had a remarkably clever cat called GG!

They say good things come in three’s, but I think perhaps it should be fours.

Back to the fermentation process. Yeast is found everywhere. It first originated hundreds of millions of years ago and at least 1500 species are recognized. Indigenous wine yeasts live on the bunch and we use these to start the process of fermentation naturally. Hope Marguerite has always been fermented using the natural yeasts from the juice or in the barrel. Last year I did my first trial isolating yeast in the vineyard and using these to get the fermentation going in barrel.

How we did it: We used a sterile glass jar, added a few perfect bunches of old vine Chenin and then crushed them in the jar. The jar was then buried under a 47-year-old vine for a few days. Once the ferment was at the perfect point, we pressed this precious juice directly into the awaiting GG’s Vineyard Chenin barrels. These barrels fermented beautifully and the resulting wine was fantastic. This gave me the confidence to inoculate all the barrels in 2021 from this portion.

The critical factor in this natural process is healthy fruit. There is no question that the 2021 wine will be something special. Analysis shows that the 12.5% potential alcohol is perfect and this is backed by a pH of 3.22 and an acidity of 7.85g/l. One can’t ask for better results. Now the natural processes within the barrel have to take place to create another unique vintage of Hope Marguerite (our blend of GG’s and Hope Single Vineyard).




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