Snakes & Ladders 2022
Snakes and Ladders’ name takes its inspiration from the wild nature of these elevated bushvine vineyards high up in the mountains, along with the highs and lows of farming these incredible parcels in such a challenging climate. It is this heat and water scarcity that keeps the roots of these vines searching for every ounce of nutrients they can extract from their deep soils.
The wine that comes from these pristine grapes is deeply complex and we vinify it as simply as we can from whole bunch pressing the grapes to months of cool maturation in old oak barrels. Ripe papaya, spun sugar and smoky mineral notes form an intensely complex nose. The palate is rich and structured with tangerine, brioche, earth and honeysuckle cut by saline acidity.
Nuts & Bolts
Sauvignon blanc – Olifantsrivier – 24-27 year old vineyards on sandy soils over clay
Residual sugar – 2.20 g/L
Total acidity – 7.1 g/L; pH 3.22
About The Wine
The Skurfberg remains one of the most challengingly dry areas that we work with, and despite a wetter growing season in the rest of the Cape, little rain fell up there. We are continuously impressed with the vines’ ability to survive and thrive in these extreme conditions. Crop levels were up nicely and the quality was fantastic despite some very hot periods during the early part of January. The vines showed little of the heat pressure in their canopies and we were able to ripen a wonderful crop.
We have been slowly expanding the number of blocks that we have access to up in the Skurfberg and the 2022 wines are the first to include some bushvine fruit from the Visser vineyard of Oudam, which is a near neighbour to the van Lil’s Arbeidsend farm. This is a very exciting development for us as Oudam brings a wonderful ripeness and concentration of tropical fruit to the blend, with Arbeidsend showing some relative reserve.
This is a “region of compulsion” for me as I just can’t turn down the opportunity to work with grapes from this area. I’m continually delighted to see the kind of complexity and texture that Sauvignon blanc can deliver on the right sites, showing itself to be one of the World’s classic grape varieties.
We have stuck to our winemaking basics here, eschewing primary fruit in favour of the deeper characteristics of the wines. The grapes are whole-bunch pressed in our old Vaslin basket press with no SO2 or other additions. The juice is then wild-fermented in a mix of 225 litre old oak barrels where the wines remain on their gross lees for 9-10 months before blending and bottling. We favour malolactic fermentation over early additions of sulphur dioxide, and the wines only see a first addition of SO2 in the early winter. We are looking for wines that show tension without losing their suppleness and core, and wines that will reward time in the cellar.