Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Devon Rocks – A Boutique Producer of Pinotage in South Africa
Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Juergen Heinrich and the Devon Rocks Pinotage Wines
If you like Pinotage – South Africa’s signature grape - and want to avoid the big names, then you should consider Devon Rocks in the Stellenbosch area. Its owner, Juegen Heinrich, told me “If you want to follow the footsteps of Pinotage in South Africa, you will unavoidably encounter big names like Kanonkop, Simonsig, Beyerskloof, Kaapzicht and Diemersfontein. However, there are many small wineries that produce consistently a top quality - even when the Platter sometimes says something else - and that look for a niche in the market. Devon Rocks is one of these niche sellers. Please come and visit us”. I did. And it turned out to be a wise decision. Devon Rocks produces an outstanding Pinotage, Juergen and Britta Heinrich are charming hosts of a very comfortable Bed and Breakfast and Juergen is very knowledgeable in terms of his own and other wines.
Devon Rocks Winery
Devon Rocks is a young winery, located in Devon Vale area just outside Stellenbosch, the wine capital of South Africa. Actually, this is where the vineyards, totaling 4 hectares of quality topsoil with a cool microclimate, are; the wines are made and aged at a different place. Juergen Heinrich is the owner, general manager, marketing chef and manager of the vineyard, while Simon Smith from Louisvale Wine Estate makes the wine.
Devon Rocks has been producing award winning Pinotage since 2003. In 2009, Devon Rocks broadened its wine portfolio and started to make a red and a rose Shiraz with its Shiraz grapes that had been sold before, and a Sauvignon Blanc with grapes bought in from the neighborhood. “Given the low volumes” Heinrich says “ we can only go into niche markets. We export to Germany and Switzerland and market directly in South Africa.” For the future, Heinrich has no intentions to expand, but wants to stabilize production and sales, and keep the quality of the wine at its current high level.
Devon Rocks Bead and Breakfast
Devon Rocks is also a little, charming Bead and Breakfast with two luxurious rooms. You can relax at the poolside and enjoy a sundowner on our large covered terrace with a nice view on the colorful sunset behind Table Mountain or Lion`s Head. The Heinrichs serve a generous breakfast. There are 60 wine estates and farms within a 20 km radius. A golf course is close by; 8 other golf courses are within half an hour drive.
Owner Juergen and Britta Heinrich
When Juergen and Britta Heinrich bought the property in 2000, Juergen was just a wine lover, but had never been professionally involved with winemaking. He had spent his professional career in the computer industry in Germany and moved to South Africa to retire. The loverly property came with almost 4 hectares of vineyard land, mostly planted with Pinotage.
Initially, Juergen was just the owner of Devon Rocks and others took the lead in the vineyard and the wine cellar. “This has changed completely during the past years” says Juegen, “I have moved from a retired status to a semi-retired status and are now working full time again, managing Devon Rocks”.
Winemaker Simon Smith
Right from the beginning, Jueegen hired cellar capacity and a winemaker, Simon Smith. Simon comes from Paarl. He received his Viticulture Diploma and Diploma in Oenology from Elsenburg Agricultural College in 1987 and 1988. In 1997 Simon was offered the position as winemaker and farm manager at Louisvale Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, where until today he signs responsible for the success of the Estate`s top quality Chardonnay as well as of the award winning Devon Rocks Pinotage wines.
Pinotage is the signature grape of South Africa. In 1925, a South African researcher at the University of Stellenbosch crossed the Pinot Noir with the Hermitage (Cinsaut): This was the birth of Pinotage. It now accounts for more than 20 percent of South Africa’s red wine. It is made in a broad range of styles, from easy-drinking quaffing wine and rosé to barrel-aged wine intended for cellaring. It is also used for port-style wine and red sparkling wine. The majority of the world's plantings of Pinotage is found in South Africa, where it makes up just 6.7% of the vineyard area but is considered a symbol of the country's distinctive winemaking traditions.
Devon Rocks Pinotage
We tasted the 2005 to 2008 vintages of Devon Rocks Pinotage. The 2003, 2004 and 2005 vintages have been awarded the GOLD Medal and the 2007 the SILVER Medal at the Michelangelo International Wine Awards. The 2006 vintage is finalist in the renowned ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Competition.
Winemakers comments: Concentrated blackberry, vanilla and chocolate flavours, which are well supported by a velvety soft oak integration, a dark ruby colour and soft tannins; this elegant Pinotage can be enjoyed now, it will reach its optimum in 3-5 years, an ideal accompaniment with beef, venison, pasta and cheese.
Technical data: 100 % Pinotage, Location: Devon Vale Stellenbosch, Soil Type: Decomposed Granite, Planting Date: 1998, Harvest Date: February 28, 2005, Sugar at Harvest: 27 Balling, Harvest Method: Hand Picked, Harvest Volume: 8.9 to, Alcohol by Volume: 15.5 %, Residual Sugar: 3.1 g/l, Total Acid: 5.4 g/l, Volatile Acid: 0.55 g/l, Total Sulphur: 73 mg/l, ph: 3.6, Maturation: 12 Months in French Oak, Bottling Date: April 16, 2006.
Winemaker`s Comments: Intense fruity nose, compact blackberry, vanilla flavours, which are well supported by a soft oak integration, a dark ruby colour and velvety tannins; this elegant wine can be enjoyed now, it will reach its optimum in 3-5 years, to be enjoyed by itself, but also an ideal accompaniment with beef, game, venison, pasta and cheese.
100 % Pinotage, Location: Devon Vale Stellenbosch, Soil Type: Decomposed Granite, Planting Date: 1998, Harvest Date: March 06, 2006, Sugar at Harvest: 26.5 Balling, Harvest Method: Hand Picked, Alcohol: 15.5 % Residual Sugar: 3.1 g/l, Total Acid: 6.0 g/l, Volatile Acid: 0.68 g/l, Total Sulphur: 68 mg/l, ph: 3.40, Maturation: 12 Months in French Oak, Bottling Date: May 03, 2007.
Winemaker’s comments: An elegant, well structured wine of the typical dark intense Pinotage color with fine nuances of blackberry and vanilla flavors, which are well supported by gentle, oaky tannins; an ideal companion of red meat, pasta and cheese. Enjoy the wine now; it will reach its optimum 3-5 years after vintage.
“I like full bodied wines” says Juergen. “In 2007, we experimented with reverse osmosis and produced a lighter, lower alcohol Pinotage, with 14% alcohol, but have gone back since to a style with a higher alcohol level. I just prefer the fatter, thicker, richer Pinotage style”.
Technical data: 100 % Pinotage, Location: Devon Vale Stellenbosch, Soil Type: Decomposed Granite, Planting Date: 1998, Harvest Date: March 14-15, 2007, Sugar at Harvest: 26.5 Balling, Harvest Method: Hand Picked, Alcohol by Volume: 14.1 %, Residual Sugar: 2.7 g/l, Total Acid: 5.8 g/l, Volatile Acid: 0.54 g/l, Total Sulphur: 53 mg/l, ph: 3.53, Maturation: 12 Months in French Oak, Bottling Date: May 26, 2008
Winemaker’s comments: A full bodied intense and robust wine with a dense ruby color offering dark berries on the nose followed by mouth filling earthy and woody aromas. The lingering fruity aftertaste keeps everything the wine has promised before. It compliments red meat dishes, pasta and spicy Asian food. The wine is made to be enjoyed now. It will, however, be relished most 3-5 years after vintage.
Technical data: 100 % Pinotage, Location: Devon Vale Stellenbosch, Soil Type: Decomposed Granite, Planting Date: 1998, Harvest Date: March 18-19, 2008, Sugar at Harvest: 27.0 Balling, Harvest Method: Hand Picked, Alcohol by Volume: 16.0 %, Residual Sugar: 3.2 g/l, Total Acid: 5.1 g/l, Volatile Acid: 0.63 g/l, Total Sulphur: 71 mg/l, ph: 3.68, Maturation: 13 Months in French Oak, Bottling Date: May 26, 2009.
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