Sacha Claassen, CWG Protege, Reports Back

Harvest at De Grendel (+/-450 ton cellar) began on the 24 Jan 2012 and there are a lot of tanks that look really promising. Playing around with the different components and making blends is quite interesting, to see what our final blend and the analysis will more or less look like.

My straw wine experiment that started off with a ton of grapes that we packed out on the straw ended in 260kg when dried. We ended up picking more Semillon grapes in the vineyards.  They had their stems partially clipped to dry naturally, just enough to fill a 225 litre barrel. The sugar of the grapes when we brought them in was around 32 balling, 6 balling less than we had hoped for. These grapes were crushed, destalked and pressed to a tank and later racked to a barrel were it was inoculated with WE372 yeast. The juice was inoculated on a Friday, fermentation took off with such a speed that I had to stop it the following Monday at 13 balling. I racked the straw wine from the barrel into a tank, cooled it down, added  sulphur and bentonite. The wine is left on the bentonite for 4 days then racked, gelatine and more sulphur added. The wine has a surprising pleasant profile given all the rot that was present. It is really difficult experimenting on small scale.

Harvest this year was more relaxed with no major hiccups. Things are never dull and boring at De Grendel. Charles always tries to teach us something interesting like problem solving, working out the costing per bottle of wine. He also helps by improving certain skills you acquire like presenting a wine. About three weeks ago I did a presentation on Sauvignon Blanc, the main goal of the exercise was not to do a wine tasting as such but to be able to sell your product to the client. The idea of getting the wine sold to major clients is quite daunting, you really have to know your story. Even though the exercise was just in front of the cellar team, it was still nerve wracking for me.

Years in Programme?   This is my third year Where are you now?  Working alongside Charles Hopkins at De Grendel Which other CWG Members have you worked with?  Jeff Grier (Villiera); Bernhard Veller (Nitida)  

Sacha's Grapes Drying

Sacha's Experiment

Sacha Cleaning a Tank