Elgin is principally an apple region in which wine is increasingly being made, although 80% of the land is still devoted to apples and pears.
Soils make up part of what the French call Terroir and the Argentinians call Teruta – it is the interactions of the climate, soils, slope, drainage, and viticulture of the land that makes wine taste the way it does.
Soil is more than a medium in which to plant the vine. Whilst it does not directly impart character, i.e. flintiness from flinty soils, it does impact various nuances depending on its type.
Tukulu (50% gravel, 25% friable clay and 25% sand) giving elegance, freshness and aromatics Koue Bokkeveld shales in three parcels giving structure and concentration of flavours one parcel of sand and pebbles (essentially Table Mountain sandstone) giving delicacy and fruity flavours.
Elgin is the coolest wine region in South Africa, well below Stellenbosch and other well-known wine regions of the Western Cape.
Essentially temperatures rarely go above 35°C and generally one wakes up to an agreeably cool day, occasionally swirling in sea-borne mists. Typically, in February, the hottest month of the year, we have cool nights with temperatures dipping to 14°C, a morning of 16°C and beautiful clear days peaking at about 23°C.
The benefit of cooler climates is that the grape cluster stays connected to its roots for longer, developing more characteristics and achieving physiological ripeness more gradually with lower sugar levels and consequently lower alcohols. The resultant wines leave one with an impression of delicacy, but also power and insistence over warmer-climate examples, which show bolder but less-persistent flavours.
Elgin has recently been reclassified as a district (demarcated viticultural area) in the Cape South Coast region of South Africa's Western Cape. Elgin is surrounded by mountains, and thus there are distinct delimitations topographically as to where the region starts and finishes. The Elgin Valley is situated on an inland, hexagonal-shaped plateau, at an altitude of 300 metres, surrounded by mountains, only 10km from the Atlantic Ocean.
Within the district of Elgin there are a number of wards and sub-wards that can be identified prior to single vineyard pinpointing. These include areas around the Palmiet River, the areas south towards the southern Kloof, the areas buttressed either side of the N2, and areas to the East and West of Grabouw.
Essentially, the Elgin district is an undulating landscape presenting perfect opportunities for vineyard site selection.Still a young wine region, Elgin will, over the ensuing months and years, undertake a more comprehensive understanding.
Iona Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Each soil type and aspect of the Sauvignon Blanc is matched with different clones to ensure we capture the endless flavours and variety in the vineyards. French and New Zealand clones have been planted (316, 317, 242, 159), providing a range of characteristic flavours. The soil is predominantly Sandstone and Quartz with underlying clay. Cool maritime conditions prevail in the Elgin Valley and the long ripening period develop the intense concentrated flavours and ensure freshness and definition of classic Sauvignon Blanc minerality. Age of vines is between 8-17 years. We planted some last year.
The aim is elegance, balance and expression of terroir. Grapes were hand picked early morning to ensure that the grapes stayed cool. Each block is harvested and vinified separately. After gentle pressing, the must was settled, maintaining the temperature at 6-8°C.
Fermentation occurred at 12-14°C, using different commercial yeast strain particularly suited to Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was kept on gross lees for 5 months and stirred regularly to enhance mid-palate richness. The 4% Semillon component was fermented naturally in 2nd and 3rd fill 500L French oak barrels to enhance the mid palate weight and to add complexity to the wine. A further 3% Sauvignon Blanc component was fermented naturally in new, 2nd and 3rd fill 500L French oak barrels.
Alc 13.7%, Total extract 20.1g/l, RS 1.8g/l, TA 6.6g/l, VA 0.38g/l, pH 3.28
Iona Chardonnay 2015
The Chardonnay is produced from 3 north-facing vineyards at 420m above sea level. The vineyards was planted in 2003, on predominantly sandstone soils with underlying clay layer. Clones planted on the different sites include CY95,CY 96 and 548). Age of vineyards is between 8-12 years.
Grapes was hand picked and sorted, before whole bunch pressed. This wine was 100% wild fermented in a selection of French oak barrels (15% new, the rest 2nd; 3rd and 4th fill). 8% of the Chardonnay was fermented in stainless steel, to add freshness and complexity. Lees stirring was done every 3rd week for 4 months to add complexity, but also retain freshness. The wine remained on the lees for a total of 11 months. 10% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation, to add richness and texture.
Alc 13.6%, Total extract 22.4g/l, RS 1.6g/l, TA 6.9g/l, VA 0.37g/l, pH 3.26
One Man Band White 2014
The Sauvignon Blanc component for the 2014 OMB White (52%) was from a single block, block D2. The soils consist of Table Mountain Sandstone, giving delicacy and fruity flavours. The block consists of 2 different clones, 316 and 259. The Sémillion component (48%) comes from a single block on the farm, planted with clone GD315 on Table Mountain Sandstone, but with more clay content, giving the wine texture and depth.
Both the Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes were hand picked and whole bunch pressed. Juice settled for 12 hours, before it was racked to 500L French oak barrels (2nd,3rd and 4th fill). Fermentation was spontaneous and the temp was kept between 18-22°C.
The wine aged for 11 months in barrel, before it was racked and bottled. No finning and light filtration before bottling.
Alc 13.2%, Total extract 20.0g/l, RS 2.1g/l, TA 6.7g/l, VA 0.45g/l, pH 3.16
Iona Pinot Noir 2014
Grapes were selected from 3 different blocks on the farm. Soils are variable and include Sandstone and Silica Quartz with clay underlying. French Dijon clones include 667, 115, and 777 and were planted in 2003, 2009. The combination of these four clones grown on varying soil structures provides flavour with broad spectrum, complexity and tannin texture. Height above sea level ranges from 400-420 meters.
Grapes was hand harvested with extensive berry sorting by hand. Bunches are destemmed without crushing, with 10% whole bunch for complexity. Fermentation is in open top fermenters where spontaneous fermentation induced. During the fermentation, the skin cap was punched through by hand or pumped over 2-3 times per day. Fermentation temp peak at 32°C.
The wine was transferred to French oak barrels where malolactic fermentation took place (20% new wood, the rest 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill). Maturation in oak was for 11 months, on the lees for the full period.
Alc 13.3%, Total extract 27.1g/l, RS 2.2g/l, TA 5.6g/l, VA 0.63g/l, pH 3.57
Solace Syrah 2014
The grapes were selected from 2 parcels of Syrah vineyards, planted in 2003 on Tukulu soils (50% gravel, 25% friable clay and 25% sand), giving the elegance, freshness and purity. Rozy selected 2 Syrah clones, SH9c and SH99. Although not certified (1 herbicide spray per year), Rozy farms according to organic and some biodinamic principles.
The grapes were hand picked, with extensive hand sorting and destemmed, but no crushing of the the grapes. The grape were cooled down overnight and fermentation started naturally. During the fermentation, the skin cap was punched through by hand or pumped over 2 times per day. Fermentation temp peak at 32°C.
During the winemaking process, we tried to keep with Rozy's farming philosophy, thus we didn't use any enzymes, yeast or sulphur during the winemaking process. The wine is unfined and unfiltered and only a small amount of Sulphur was added before bottling.
Alc 13.8%, Total extract 29.2g/l, RS 2.4g/l, TA 5.5g/l, VA 0.69g/l, pH 3.48
One Man Band 2010
47% Syrah / 26% Cabernet Sauvignon / 23% Merlot / 2% Mourvèdre / 5% Petit Verdot
When Andrew Gunn and Rozy married in 2003 they kept both their farms. Andrew's was high on a mountain top with cool sea breezes and Rozy's was nestled in a valley full of interesting slopes.
They believed they had the best of two very different worlds in Elgin. It is from these very diverse micro climates that the red varietals for the One Man Band are procured. Iona's breathtaking and chilly perch provides the structure and bright purity of red berry fruit, while the valley farm yields grapes that are twice ripened by the warmer climate and the additional light and warmth which is reflected off the white quartz, which makes up much of the soil profile on these rocky slopes. It is from these vineyards that we get our brooding intensity and colour.
A blend gives us the leverage to produce – in any given vintage, a wine of substance, character, complexity and poise. A wine that will represent the best possible reflection of each vintage from Iona.
One Man Band is a balancing act using many different instruments, aiming to harmonise, co-ordinate and integrate the separate elements.
From the 2008 vintage, we have decided to produce a red blend that is reflective of the best of the red wines Iona produces. It is a wine that will reflect two very different terroirs: the warm, ripe Syrah from our Brocha vineyards lower down in the Elgin Valley, and the cool, fresh Cabernet and Merlot from Iona's vineyards, high up overlooking the Atlantic. The idea behind producing this wine is to produce something that is incomparable and unique to our property.
The blend will also contain small components of Petit Verdot and Mourvèdre and even Viognier in some years, all grown on Brocha, adding up to something that does not draw comparison toOld World, or even other South African wines.
The 2008 wine is dominated by Shiraz, giving us warm, ripe spicy fruit with wonderful depth and concentration. Cool Cabernet and Merlot then lift and freshen the wine.
In each vintage, the blend will be different, as we want to show the best expression of the red wines produced in any given year, rather than relying on a formula for the blend.
Our red wine vinification is very traditional:
Hand harvested, before being destemmed and hand-sorted on a vibrating table.
Grapes were destemmed and not crushed.
Extraction is achieved using regular pump-overs.
Later on in the ferment we switch to punching down to keep the skins submerged in the wine, as we enter a period of extended maceration following alcoholic fermentation. During this time, the wines are tasted every in order to assess the extraction level and when to press-off.
Once pressed off, the wines undergo spontaneous malolactic fermentation in tank before being racked to barrel where they will undergo 12-18 months of aging in French oak barrels, of which 25% is new oak. During this maturation in barrel, the wine will be racked 2-3 times to help clarify it naturally and to help develop its aroma and structure.
SYRAH| Syrah is dense and powerful, but with bags of ripe red berry fruit and spice. It provides the warmth in the blend that is a perfect counterpoint to the coolness of the Iona contributions.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON| The typical flavour profile is classically Cabernet with deep, dark cassis and cigar box aromas.
MERLOT| Adds bright, rich red fruits to the blend.
MOURVÈDRE| Lends weight, spice and wild berries to the blend.
PETIT VERDOT| It is very tannic and dark, but brings great colour, structure and aromatics to the blend.
VIOGNIER| Viognier is a very aromatic varietal and brings perfume to the blend. Jasmine, almonds and peaches are classic Viognier aromas.
Alc. 13.6%, Total extract 29.1g/l, RS 2.4g/l, TA 5.3g/l, VA 0.69, pH 3.63