The fruit sourced for this wine comes from the Estate’s Wallcliffe Vineyard, planted between 1970 and 1972, located 8km from the ocean with a south-west aspect. The vines grow on gravel laterite soils over gravelly, clay sub-soils. Judicious shoot and leaf removal, trickle irrigation and springtime composting ensure vine health and physiologically ripe grapes.
Budburst got off to an early start however September and October were quite wet, windy and cold which slowed down shoot growth. Warmer weather in November saw the vines regain vigour and by December, supplementary irrigation was applied and another fine vintage was assured. Harvest commenced a week or so later than usual. Grape flavours were highly aromatic this year with higher than normal acid levels and lower than average yields.
The Wallcliffe Vineyard was harvested by hand in two runs on 5 and 11 April, average yield was a miserly 4.3 tonnes per hectare. Fruit arriving at the winery was de-stemmed and lightly crushed so that high proportions of whole berries were conveyed to the fermenter. The must was left to macerate for a day before seeding with a neutral strain of yeast. Cabernet then stays on skins for up to 28 days. Once dry, the wine was inoculated for malolactic fermentation. It was racked twice before going into French oak barrels, 75% of which were new. After 18 months in oak the wine underwent final assemblage in spring 2003. The early blending allows time for a harmonious marriage of the components to occur. It was bottled in December 2003.