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Gerhard Swart, Flagstone’s winemaker, is no stranger to awards. His Free Run Sauvignon blanc has consistently received high accolades over the past years and this comes as no surprise considering the care that goes into his Sauvignon blanc.

Let’s take a closer look at how this wine is made. The Sauvignon blanc is harvested from vineyards that are 8 to 12 years old during February and March. Yield is 6 to 8 tonnes/ha. Upon arrival, the grapes are stored overnight in a cold room at 0 to 2°C. The cool grapes are then fed into the crusher under a carbon dioxide blanket. Rapidase Expression (Oenobrands), sulphur dioxide and ascorbic acid are added sequentially at the crusher. Tannin Galacool is added during crushing when Botrytis infection is evident.  The crushed grapes and juice is then pumped into a skin contact tank and kept at 2 to 4°C for 18 hours. Free run juice from the skin contact tank is pumped to another tank and skins are pumped to a Velo Evolution Press (the press was designed so that grapes can be pressed in a reductive environment of nitrogen gas). Viniclar (PVPP, Laffort) is added to the free run juice before settling. The press juice is then pumped to another tank. Fining agents such as Polylact (PVPP and casein) and gelatine are added to the press juice. Settling enzyme, Rapidase Vino Super (Oenobrands) is added at the settling tank and this lasts for 2 days at 12 to 13°C.

All Sauvignon blanc fluffy lees is combined and kept at 3 to 5°C. Total sulphur dioxide levels are kept at 35 to 40 ppm. After sheet filtration of the fluffy lees, fermentation is initiated and Turbicell is added to increase the NTU level (sheet filtration decreases this too much and can lead to nutrient deficiencies). A typical minimum NTU level of 80 to 100 is sufficient for Sauvignon blanc ferments.

Gerhard uses the following yeasts for his Sauvignon blanc ferments: Anchor Alchemy I and II (Oenobrands) contributes floral, gooseberry and tropical flavours; Anchor VIN 7 (Oenobrands) makes a big contribution towards tropical aromas; X5 (Laffort) adds boxwood, lychee and passion fruit aromas; QA 23 (Lallemand) makes a contribution similar to the Alchemy yeasts and VL 3 (Laffort) produces a waft of khaki bush. Different yeasts add complexity to the wine. Dynastart (Laffort) is added at yeast rehydration and Nutristart (Laffort) is added when needed. Thiazote (Laffort) is added in 3 stages: after 3°B has been fermented, at 16°B and at 12°B. Inoculation is done at 12 to 13°C and fermentation at 12 to 16°C. Fermentation lasts 2 to 3 weeks after which ageing on gross lees (2 weeks) and fine lees (3 to 4 months) follows. Evolution in wine aroma is monitored during fermentation and ageing by regular tasting and chemical analysis.

The Sauvignon blanc is stabilised at the end of June, bottled at the end of July and released in September. Protein stability is done after final blending, right before bottling. All Sauvignon blanc is treated with bentonite after blending.

The Free Run Sauvignon blanc sells for £10 in the UK.

Bernard Mocke is a Technical Consultant for Anchor Wine Yeast.

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