“We need to think about a beautiful label for these small-batch wines … special labels that communicate a ‘somewhereness’. You know – that innate quality that exudes destination, telling you where this wine is from.”
Winemaker Johann Fourie thought about naming his small-batch wines like any dad would ponder about the name of his firstborn. Not that this would be the first time he pushes the boundaries, but it would be the first time that Benguela Cove would highlight vineyards with a trajectory of consistent quality.
“There are two directions to think about: A range that challenges traditional assumptions and a wine that will become the flagbearer for what is possible at the Benguela Cove Estate.”
It is exactly a year ago when Johann walked me through the cellar to share his vision. We’ve come a long way and I followed his career through many tastings, jotting down his tenacity to excel with his “why not” approach in many articles. These special wines he was referring to, was already completed and waiting out the final stretch for time to add the finer touches.
What makes wine different from any other beverage is where it is from, followed by the winemaker's skill to allow the wine to tell its own story. As we all know, this liquid story comes to life with a label, and conceptualizing this to convey an important message, is more like writing its autobiography.
Estate wines – the essence of the place
Those who followed Benguela Cove growing up as a brand would’ve noticed a few changes along the way, moving away from black and gold to echo its home with sandy and deep ocean blue colours. It has been well received as a sophisticated identity true to the message of fine wines produced from a cool wine region. Whilst the Lighthouse Collection tells the story of the marginal conditions the vineyards flourish in, the estate range portrays the lagoon and mountains that frame this special terroir.
Cuvee58 joined in December 2018 as Benguela Cove’s first Method Cap Classique made from Sauvignon Blanc and proved to be a favourite amongst visitors during the festive season.
Where these wines will always remain centre stage, the new wine ranges represent the knowledge accumulated over the years to make wines that represent the terroir to our best ability and making them to age.
Vinography – winemaker and nature joining forces to push the boundaries
With less than 400 bottles made of the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay and just over 600 produced of the Petit Verdot, wine lovers are encouraged to get their hands on one of these wines before they are snatched up on this day.
Where did the idea for Vinography start?
Johann: “Winemaking is an ongoing process. One can never become complacent and always need to investigate the road less travelled and try new things outside your comfort zone. This is what Vinography is all about.”
Vinography serves as a diary of both winemaker and nature. If one can tear a page from their winemaking book on a day they strayed from the textbook, this is what it would look like. It represents everything that became instrumental in completing a wine – from vineyard to cellar.
“If you don’t try something, you might never know what the outcome could’ve been. One always needs to take the lessons learned from previous years to push the boundaries. This involves different techniques in the vineyards and different trails on batches. Vineyard experiments would then be exposed to different ferments, oak, yeasts, extraction techniques, ageing techniques, fermentation vessels etc. Somewhere along the line, different cultivars will start to stand out and produce characterful wines. One year this could be Petit Verdot, the other year it might be Merlot.”
Bordeaux cultivars, like Petit Verdot, love the cool climate and the beneficial diurnal temperature ranges. This means that the cool nights (preserving delicate aromas) are juxtaposed with sufficient heat during the day to assure optimal ripeness. The cool climate also allows for a longer hanging time without the sun baking down on the bunches to chase up the sugar content. These diurnal changes are not common in all cool wine regions and Benguela Cove is taking full advantage of this to produce exceptional fruit.
“Although different producers excel in Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, it doesn’t mean that we are following a trend to include these cultivars in the Vinography Range. We are leaders not followers and the degree of differentiation will be clear in the style of wine. Global warming is no secret and nothing can be taken as surety in the years to come. We definitely need to look at different cultivars that may become relevant.”
That being said, Johann adds that no one can ignore the deep footprints of viticulturists and winemakers that came before. One needs to know the rules before one can break the rules.
“It is just important to also challenge the status quo and to colour outside the lines.”
Being witnesses of a vintage, the range will read like a diary or a journal, a moment in time with all the different variables that come with it, celebrated in a bottle. This is complete with packaging that adds to the storytelling, making this a conversation piece at the dinner table.
Catalina – a wine to be remembered
Meet our flagbearer – a wine that represents exceptional quality and longevity. This SA Platter’s Five Star winner was well worth the wait. With nearly 50% already sold on allocation, this is another have to have if wine, especially Semillon, pulls on your heartstrings.
Catalina celebrates quality while honouring the history that etched the land on which Benguela Cove is built today. The lagoon that borders the estate was used as a base during WW2 for Catalina flying boats. Of the fourteen soldiers stationed at the base, three returned to marry South African women.
“Catalina is not driven by experiments and all the weird and wonderful things we try to achieve with Vinography. This is a consistent approach to reward a vineyard that always produces quality. It is produced from a single vineyard that has been a champion at the SA Young wine show for consecutive years.”
Catalina was made to be remembered.
The wine is sold on allocation only in a set of three with beautiful and nostalgic packaging. Sales open on 6 April.
Samarie Smith - Brand Business Manager
Benguela Cove Wines | Benguela Collection