Stellenzicht adds pinotage to low-sulphate range

Date posted:
March 23, 2012

Stellenzicht has extended its no sulphites-added collection of Cellarmaster’s Release wines with a Pinotage from the 2009 vintage. It joins the 2008 Petit Verdot and 2009 Chardonnay. The latter two, launched late in 2010, both received bronze medals in the 2011 Wine Innovation Awards of the prominent trade publication The Drinks Business.


Stellenzicht winemaker Guy Webber had been experimenting with low-sulphite wines for several vintages before bringing the first two to market “to extend the taste spectrum for consumers” although the wines are intended primarily for people who are sulphur-sensitive.


The grapes for the new wine were harvested from a small area in the middle of a bushvine vineyard where the growth was more vigorous. The must was fermented on the skins and malolactic fermentation occurred spontaneously before the wine was aged for 19 months in 300-litre barrels.


As in the case of the first two no sulphite-added wines, only a very small quantity was made of the pinotage and just over 2 700 bottles were produced.


To be classified as a low-sulphite wine, the sulphite count may not exceed 10 parts per million. According to Guy, the risk of bacterial spoilage in the absence of any preservatives determines every action in the making of such wines.


“You have to start with healthy grapes of excellent quality that must be delivered to the cellar without delay. You also have to select yeast cultures that generate little sulphur during fermentation.”


Particular care was taken to avoid oxygen contact during bottling. “We used high-quality composite corks to eliminate oxygen penetration and before filling, staff wearing sterilised gloves dropped pellets of dry ice into each bottle to expel the oxygen.      


“In addition to sulphites, there are a number of inherent preservatives in wine, such as tannins, the acids and the alcohol itself.  If it is sealed in hermetically, there is no reason why a low-sulphite wine should not last as long as sulphite-treated ones,” Guy said.


He expects the pinotage, a full-bodied wine, to last well for another four to six years under proper conditions.  


Stellenzicht Cellarmaster’s Release Pinotage 2009 retails for around R125 a bottle. 



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