South Africa is free from the strict regulation found in EU and specifically Burgundy which dictates such aspects as methods of planting pruning and trellising levels of yields residual sugar acidity alcohol etc. decreeing even which bottle shape is legal or illegal and even the fundamental right to plant vines at all. Alex Dale came to South Africa from Burgundy in 1994 weeks after Nelson Mandela was democratically elected President and experienced for the very first time the total freedom to act as his heart and mind felt would allow the greatest individualism in this magnificent and untampered-with vinescape. Freedom to challenge ourselves against nature rather than regulation and Freedom to be wrong or right rather than absurdly a regulatory outlaw! In the spirit of an exciting newly-democratic South Africa this burst of liberty sewed the seed for the creation of Radford Dale’s passionately crafted Freedom Pinot Noir. And as luck would have it Nelson Mandela had just completed his long walk to freedom and become President that year too… Alc: 13.5% TA: 5g/l pH: 3. 63 RS: 2.2 g/l
In the vineyard
The single vineyard that produces this Pinot Noir is planted to the Dijon clones 115 and 777 and has now reached more than a decade of producing some of the finest grapes of the region. Elgin is one of the naturally coolest vineyard locations in South Africa. Its altitude (300m – 400m above sea level is considerably higher than the 150-250m of Stellenbosch) benefits the location through naturally lower temperatures and higher rainfall. Here we find a greater degree of cloud cover because of the specific topography of the region that results not only in lower daytime temperatures during summer, but also a more gentle spectrum of sunlight to ripen developing bunches. Also, veraison tends to occur much later in Elgin and only once the hottest summer spells are past. Elgin is an area rich in geological diversity and these vineyards benefit from the finest examples of Table Mountain Sandstone and Cartref soil types, which impart an elegant minerality to the wine. Plentiful rains meant a decent crop and cool conditions over the ripening period which resulted in even ripening and lovely aromatics.
In the cellar
Following a pre-selection process in the vineyards, the grapes are picked by hand at dawn into 15kg lug-boxes. They are then transported to our winery on the Helderberg Mountain in Stellenbosch. Hand sorting is employed to ensure only the best grapes are used. In 2018 we used partial carbonic maceration during the fermentation in open wooden fermenters, resulting in a wonderfully perfumed fruit expression. The pomace and skins were then pressed by hand in a small basket press and the press juice matured separately. The maturation of the wine, on the lees, lasted for almost 10 months before we assembled the barrels and then bottled without fining or filtration.
Ideal with duck and other game birds, casseroles or, of course, stews like beef bourguignon.