“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.” – Robert Mondavi
In 1926 Charles Boyd Varty and Frank Unger, great-grandfathers of the Varty & Taylor clans, stood before the mighty Sand river and shaped the foundations of Londolozi. The vision and potential these two men saw in the bush has endured over the years along with the same granite rocks in the river.
Presidents and royalty were hosted for two generations and hunters shot and killed the wild animals. Thirty-five years ago this came to an end with John, Dave and Shan Varty who together as a family shared a dream to build a world class destination and create the blueprint for modern day conservation in Southern Africa.
Londolozi is a privately owned game reserve built on solid foundations with almost a century of family history. Londolozi is socially, economically and environmentally responsible. We welcome all, explore frontiers and exceed expectations.
At Londolozi the Varty family values can be seen everywhere – the personalized service, the commitment to conservation, the ambience of simplicity and elegance, and in the welcome our guests receive on arrival.
At Londolozi there are many different family groups, all joined by their commitment to Londolozi and its values. Some of these family members are third generation, striving to build life long bonds with one another, guests and nature. All these values follow through with everything that we do, including what wine we serve.
When we look at choosing a new wine for the wine list, first and foremost, before we actually taste the wine to see if it’s any good, we check to see if the winery / estate / producer is privately owned and run by family or friend units. We investigate if the producer is socially and environmentally responsible. And only once these boxes have been checked, do we gather a tasting panel together comprising of wine loving staff members to blind taste the wine.
Another very important point, other than the French Champagne we stock, is that we only allow South African wine on our list. We believe that South African wine is just as good as the best from Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and other great wine producing areas and want to promote our wine-growing region as much as possible.
So with all that, we have just listed a new wine: Springfield “Wild Yeast” Chardonnay 2011!
Springfield Estate is based in the Robertson region of the Western Cape. Springfield is a family-run wine farm owned by the Bruwer family who are fourth generation wine farmers and ninth generation descendants of the Bruères, French Huguenots who came to South Africa from the Loire in 1688 with bundles of vines under their arms.
The present owners, brother-and-sister team, Abrie and Jeanette Bruwer, are assisted by a team of dedicated workers, many of whom have been with the Bruwers for decades. Abrie oversees the viticulture of the land and makes the wine. Jeanette co-ordinates the marketing of the wine.
Abrie is passionate about wine and believes in producing wine as naturally as possible with a policy of minimal intervention in the cellar.
With Springfield’s natural approach to winemaking they also have eco-friendly practices in the vineyards. Spraying is kept to a minimum and an army of ducks patrols the vineyards eating snails. Irrigation is only done when absolutely necessary to relieve grape stress.
Instead of using commercial yeasts in the fermentation process, the use of natural, wild yeast that adheres to the skins of the grapes when harvested is practiced to a large extent. Hence the name “Wild Yeast” Chardonnay.
So how is it that a grape can have its own wild yeast? Grapes are designed to attract birds with its sugar and with this spread its seeds. These seeds would have an advantage above the rest as they are fertilized with the bird droppings. However, if the birds don’t show up then the grape would want to re-use the sugar it has worked so hard on to produce. So over time grapes have developed a unique system to ferment this sugar. The grape first develops a waxy layer to attract the wild yeast which it needs to ferment the sugar. The yeast then breaks down the skin and ferments this sugar into alcohol. A vinegar bacterium which is also present will turn the “wild wine” into an organic type of vinegar which then drips onto the floor and nourishes the mother plant.
Springfield allows these fickle yeasts to live in the vineyard by not using any sprays to kill them. They endure their temperament while they ferment the wine in the cellar. And only if it is special enough, do they present it, like the mother vine, to the wild world.
This wine is made from Chardonnay grapes from 12 – 16 year old vines. It is tank fermented and left for thirteen months on the lees (dead yeast cells which can impart flavours such as biscuit, croissants, toast, butter and brioche).
This is an unoaked / unwooded Chardonnay, very complex in style, with flavours of pineapple and pear drops with nutty yeasty cookie dough.
It would pair very well with cob with lemon, herb and fennel sauce, chicken makhani or a vichyssoise soup.
Springfield is very well known for their “Life from Stone” Sauvignon Blanc, have you tried this? Do you prefer oaked or unoaked Chardonnay?