Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap White 2012
Boekenhoutskloof was established in 1776. Located in the furthest corner of the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, the farm’s name means “ravine of the Boekenhout” (pronounced Bookn-Howed). The Boekenhout is an indigenous Cape Beech tree greatly prized for furniture making. In 1993 the farm and homestead was bought and restored and a new vineyard planting program was established that now includes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Semillon, and Viognier. Today, Marc Kent is the owner, chief winemaker, and driving force behind the dynamic farm.
The Story of the Seven Chairs
The Boekenhout is an indigenous Cape Beech tree greatly prized for making fine furniture. The Boekenhoutskloof label features seven chairs; amongst them the country-style split splat chair made in the neo-classical style with a shouldered top rail and the thonged seat from the late 18th century. Then there’s the Sandveld chair that has two back rails and a thonged seat which made its appearance in the second quarter of the 19th century. The transitional Tulbagh chair was made in the late 18th century; it has a plain back and a shaped top rail with half-round opening. The chairs on the wine labels all pay tribute to the skills of the 18th century craftsmen and their achievements in creating beauty from natural sources, just like the pursuit of fine winemaking.
With an important wine renaissance in full swing, impressive red and white bargains abound in South Africa. The country has a particularly long and rich history with winemaking, especially considering its status as part of the “New World.” In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century.
Today, however, South Africa is increasingly responsible for high-demand, high-quality wines—a blessing to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot. But the Benguela Current from Antarctica provides brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening of grapes. Similarly, cooler, high-elevation vineyard sites throughout South Africa offer similar, favorable growing conditions.
South Africa’s wine zones are divided into region, then smaller districts and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for red-fruit-driven, spicy, earthy reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following close behind.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used in white wine blends, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied white wine blend, like Chardonnay, would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.