HAUTE: a word denoting the highest pinnacle of an art form. At Haute Cabrière the meaning is two-fold: high-quality wines produced high up on the Franschhoek Pass, where the iconic winery is situated. Renowned specialists in the art of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the family-owned wine estate was founded in the late 1980s, and has produced over three decades of excellent wines.
The culmination of this dedication is being realised in the maiden release of The Haute Collection. Comprising of three wines for the 2017 vintage, the range is site-driven and represents the very best in no-holds barred winemaking. The wines are packaged elegantly with clean, minimalist labels depicting the Haute Collection logo, a creative representation of the crown and the horns of the von Arnim family crest. The family crest is also represented in the Haute Cabrière estate logo, neatly illustrating where this range lies in the family of wines. A high point.
The 2017 Collection includes a barrel-fermented Chardonnay with a component fermented in amphorae, a Pinot Noir and a 100 percent amphora Chardonnay.
“With this range I truly want to express terroir,” explains second generation Cellar Master Takuan von Arnim. “It also allows us to be experimental in the vinification.”
Magic lies in the space between collaboration
These vineyard-focused wines actually began with an accidental discovery. Winemaker Tim Hoek identified some Chardonnay bunches that had deep concentration of flavour and colour and the pair decided to barrel-ferment a portion of the 2016 harvest as an experiment.
Both Takuan and Tim were very pleased, resulting in the decision to use the entire block for a single-vineyard wine circa 2017.
“We have such a great partnership and work intuitively together. I trust his passion and imagination to create some incredible wines.” Comments von Arnim on his relationship with Hoek. It was after this series of events that The Haute Collection came to life as a space for experimentation in the estate’s portfolio. An on-going project, each year the Haute Collection may change depending on a variety of factors; from identifying special vineyard sites to innovative winemaking and maturation techniques.
The Haute Collection Chardonnay, 2183 bottles: This block was planted in 1983 by proprietor Achim von Arnim and situated on the lower part of the farm.
“It’s well suited for Chardonnay with sandy loam soil, as well as being the coldest part of the farm,” comments Hoek. The block is also suspended between two rivers, isolating it from the rest of the vineyards and at just 0,5 hectares it only produces four tonnes of grapes.
In the vinification, clay amphorae were used in addition to French Oak barrels for the maturation, resulting in an elegant wine with subtle oak characters. The two components were matured separately for 12 months, thereafter blending took place. True to its Chardonnay character, expect notes of citrus, followed by subtle nuances of honey and butterscotch along a textured palate and a concentrated core of pure, crystalline fruit, with a fresh, energetic finish.
The Haute Collection Pinot Noir, 1011 bottles: Being Pinot Noir specialists, the next natural step was to pinpoint the Pinot Noir vineyard most suited to the range.
“We are, and we always have been, fascinated by Pinot,” underscores von Arnim.
Higher up on the farm on the slopes of the Middagkrans Mountain, a clay-rich block was identified. This vineyard block was originally planted in 1992 and 1993 by Achim von Arnim, as a high-density planting experiment. With vine spacing at one-meter apart, all the viticulture needs to be done by hand, from pruning to harvesting. The result is a low yield of deeply concentrated fruit.
The Pinot Noir was matured for 12 months in French Oak barrels. Aromatics of red and black cherries abound, with a crushed rock minerality similar to the scent of the earth just after the rain. On the palate flavours of plums and cherries deepen into earthy notes with a seam of fine-grained tannins and a tensile finish. This wine will develop over the next five to eight years.
The Haute Collection Amphora Chardonnay: With this limited release 100% amphora Chardonnay, the pair went as far as to install cooling jackets on the amphorae to keep the fermentation process cool.
“It reminds me of the Alps, that purity and freshness,” comments von Arnim on the austerity of the flavour profile.
The 450 litre terracotta amphorae are handmade, meaning a slow oxidation occurs, no flavour however is added or achieved, like with barrels. These vessels promote the natural flavours, and the wine is then able to be massively expressive. The wine shows a lot of primary fruit with a bouquet of tropical fruit and hints of lime and citrus with great palate weight and fresh acidity.
“A sense of minerality on the palate is very intriguing. The wine has taken two years to finally open up, but shows a lot of promise for further aging, and will definitely reward the drinker for their patience,” comments Hoek.
The Haute Collection has been designed to be enjoyed with food, and ties into the von Arnim family’s love for the art of food and wine pairing.
“The Haute Collection wines are perfect to enjoy in restaurants or around the dining table, including our Restaurant at the estate, of course. Though, enjoy them however you want. Our wines don’t put you in a corner, they set you free,” concludes von Arnim.
The wines retail at R249 for the whites and R289 for the Pinot Noir; available from the online shop (www.cabriere.co.za) and selected fine wine retailers.
Haute Cabrière’s Restaurant and Tasting Room are situated on Franschhoek Pass (Lambrechts Road), Franschhoek. Both the Restaurant and Tasting Room are currently closed for renovations and will reopen in October 2019. All enquires 021 876 8500.