Strandveld Vineyards, Africa’s most southerly vineyard and winery, has received the coveted 5 stars in the Platter’s 2021 South African Wine Guide for its Strandveld Pofadderbos Sauvignon Blanc 2019.
Strandveld Vineyards situated in the Elim wine ward, has been producing Sauvignon Blanc and Rhône varieties for the past 18 years. The Elim area was earmarked as a Sauvignon Blanc producing region from the very beginning. Not surprising, considering its proximity to the ocean and resultant cool maritime climate with the benefit of ocean breezes. “The terroir in Elim is so unique, it pushes the vines to their limit and results in lower yields with concentrated flavours”, says Conrad Vlok, winemaker at Strandveld since 2005.
The grapes for the Strandveld Pofadderbos Sauvignon Blanc 2019 come from a special vineyard on the farm, fondly known as Pofadderbos due to the frequent encounters with these eponymous snakes. The vineyard is surrounded by indigenous fynbos. Interestingly, the East to West row direction of this site is different to the rest of the farm. “Row direction is important here in Elim, as we get a lot of wind”, says Conrad. “The row direction in Pofadderbos forces the wind to blow through the rows, greatly minimising damage as well as keeping the vineyards cooler”, Vlok continues. “Even though we have tried to minimise the wind’s influence on the vines as much as possible, we still only end up with a very small yield of between 3 and 5 tons per hectare.”
The predominating yellow iron ferricrete soils in the Pofadderbos vineyard offer perfect growing conditions to best express terroir. Planted in 2003 on a cool south-facing slope, the vineyard has produced wines with a typical flinty and almost salty character ever since the first vintage in 2010. “We are nurturing this vineyard block by implementing special pruning techniques to steer away from the dreaded ‘dead arm disease’ which is common in these parts. Although it is labour intensive, it has prolonged the Pofadderbos vineyard’s life, and this 5-star rating is testament to the quality of fruit this older block produces”, says Conrad.
In the cellar, after destalking and crushing, the small berries were lightly pressed and the free run juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks with extended lees contact for 5 months before being prepared for bottling. The wines from this region benefit greatly from time in the bottle, and the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc spent 12 months in bottle before the tasting commenced for the Platter’s 2021 South African Wine Guide.
“Pofadderbos is on my main walking route around the farm, so I visit the vineyard almost every day. I wonder why it is different and why the site produces a style of wine not found on the rest of the farm. I know that the secret is in the site and Mother Nature holds those secrets close to her heart. This Platter’s 2021 South African Wine Guide 5 star rating just shows me again how we have learned, both from our mistakes and our successes, in this windswept part of Africa”, ends Conrad.
Strandveld Pofadderbos Sauvignon Blanc is available for R150 per bottle at the cellar door or on the Winery’s online store. The 2019 vintage is unfortunately sold out at the winery but if you’re lucky you might still be able to find a bottle or two at your favourite retailer.