The 2020 Mosaic Top 5 Pinot Noir Wine Awards judges tasted 109 wines, and Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Clonal Selection Pinot Noir 2017 placed in the top five.
Richard Kershaw founded Richard Kershaw Wines in 2012, with the aim to create clonally selected, site specific, cool-climate wines from appropriate noble grapes. One of only ten Masters of Wine who actively make wine, Richard is pursuing his dream in Elgin in the Overberg region of the Western Cape.
The Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Clonal Selection Pinot Noir 2017 was made from French clones PN777, PN667, PN115, PN114 and PN113. In viticulture, a clone refers to a vine variety that is selected for specific qualities, which result from natural mutations. Cuttings are made from an original "mother vine" that exhibits key characteristics, such as resistance to certain diseases or desired cluster size, taste, smell, etc. The wine was made from six parcels of Pinot Noir in Elgin that yielded a total of 6.87 tons of grapes.
While Pinot Noir can provide sensory and culinary pleasure, it can prove to be a source of stress for viticulturists and oenologists. “Pinot Noir has often been referred to as the heartbreak grape, it’s the one that tends to struggle a little bit in its early season, it is prone to a bit of frost, rot and other challenges, it doesn’t yield a particularly high number of grapes. And, ultimately, it is affected by weather. You have to be careful where you plant it, it can very quickly go to jam – and have this hot, jam-like quality with hot alcohol, which can make it unpleasant,” Richard says.
The Pinot Noir grapes were handpicked into small lug baskets and then manually sorted on a conveyor before the stems were removed. The destemmed berries fell onto a vibrating table to remove jacks and substandard berries before dropping uncrushed into small 500kg open-topped fermenters.
The grapes underwent a 3-day maceration before spontaneous fermentation began. During fermentation the cap was gently punched down and the grapes remained on skins for 10-16 days. The wine was then racked to barrel under gravity and the remaining pomace basket pressed. Malolactic fermentation then proceeded in barrel followed by a light sulphuring after which the wine was racked off malolactic lees and returned to cleaned barrels for an 11-month maturation. No fining agents were necessary, and the wine was simply racked and filtered prior to bottling.
A small number of artisanal French coopers were selected, all from Burgundy. 12% of the oak was new with the remainder split into 2nd and 3rd fill barrels of 228, 300 and 500 litres.
A mere 5850 bottles were produced, each individually marked on the label.
Rüdger van Wyk, winemaker at Stark-Condé Wines, was one of the distinguished judges on the 2020 Mosaic Top 5 Pinot Noir Wine Awards panel. Rüdger was a Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé and was awarded the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year title in 2018.
“I was amazed by the number of entries, I didn’t even know there were so many Pinot Noir producers in South Africa! Pinot Noir is a very nuanced wine - aromas do not always jump out of the glass in the way that other varieties do. You always have to concentrate and understand the specific wines’ story,” Rüdger says.
Rüdger expands, “Pinot Noir is truly the heartbreak grape, it’s such a delicate variety to work with. Climate and growing conditions play a huge role in quality. Get it right, and the wine is amazing. Get it wrong and the wine can be undrinkable.”
With regards to the Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Clonal Selection Pinot Noir 2017, Rüdger says, “the wine is so balanced, it shows excellent fruit purity, powdery tannins and vibrant acidity.”
Richard suggest that the Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Clonal Selection Pinot Noir 2017 is best enjoyed from a glass with a big, wide bowl – for instance, the Pinot Noir glass from Riedel.
“This is to enable all those lovely flavours to concentrate, and not evaporate out of the glass. There are so many volatile flavours in Pinot, half of the enjoyment in Pinot is the nose, those tantalizing, complex characters that one can’t quite put a finger on,” Richard says.
Richard advises that his Pinot Noir pairs well with strongly flavoured meats and mushrooms. “Strongly flavoured meats can have a lovely umami flavour that make the wine taste a little bit fruitier. Personally, I enjoy Pinot Noir with salmon, garnished with onions, bell peppers and shitake mushrooms.”
“As Pinot Noir ages, the wine tends to develop tertiary components, that plays well with duck casseroles – or even red meat,” Richard suggests. He suggests various mushroom dishes as excellent pairing options for vegetarian Pinot Noir enthusiasts.
Visit the Richard Kershaw Wines website to learn more about the award winning Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Clonal Selection Pinot Noir 2017.
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