Great wine that has the potential of aging, like all wine, starts in the vineyard and continues through the winemaking process to create wines that are perfectly balanced for aging.
At Paserene careful consideration is taken in selecting the best parcels of vines in Tulbagh, Elgin and Franschhoek. Skilful viticulture of training, pruning, and watering of the vines is practised, encouraging the best result of the berries development. The goal is the optimum quantity and a balance of exposure to the elements to encourage timeous ripening while maintaining the natural acids and thickness of the berry’s skins. The skins introduce valuable extracts to the wine that are essential to creating a wine that will shine over time. These extracts are made up of pigments, tannins and combinations of flavour compounds, and are known together as phenolics. The Syrah used in the Paserene Union is carefully curated in Tulbagh to give only 2 tons per hectare, which ensures the inky and dark, with concentrated flavour.
Once harvested and sent to the winery, the phenolics along with complex acids, sugars and minerals, are extracted from the fruit as the first step to the vinification process. The winemaker will demonstrate their skill by using techniques that nurture the primary characteristics and develop secondary characteristic that will support the age worthiness of the wine. In the Paserene Marathon, fermentation takes place in small upright French oak barrels with gentle punching down of the cap of skins and solids that rise to the surface which encourages greater extraction. 50% of this wine is then aged in new barrels which introduces complex secondary characteristics to partner with the natural character of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The Paserene Union is fermented in concrete open top tanks and then matured in third and fourth fill barrels to maintain the inherent bright, fruity integrity of the three-way blend. Whereas the Paserene Chardonnay is fermented in the barrel, a combination of new and old, by wild yeast on the grapes and a full malolactic fermentation (MLF) is allowed to happen. MLF is a process where sharper malic acid is converted into softer lactic acid which adds to the mouth feel of the wine. This wine is left in the barrels with the sediment and agitated periodically by rolling the barrels to reduce exposure to oxygen that will prematurely oxidate the wine. Traditionally this agitation is done by stirring, called batonnage, to encourage extraction.
“I would consider myself a precision winemaker. A good balance between being technical and being intuitive. I tinker with my wines…a lot. I will ponder if I want to take a certain action for weeks on end. I like wines with weight, wines with a lot of colour and tannin, but they need to have balance. I record everything, nothing is wasted and nothing is taken for granted. That is the key. I have tasted wines with 100% new oak and a 15,5 % alcohol that is in complete harmony”. – Martin Smith
Once the winemaker is confident in the extracting and balance of the wine, the wine will be separated from the sediment, called racking, and some might filter before bottling. At Paserene the winemaker, Martin Smith, has handcrafted each wine to produce a moment in time that tells a story. Martin chooses not to filter the wines across the Paserene and Elements ranges which allows valuable extracts to remain in the wine adding additional potential for the wines to evolve while staying beautifully clear.
With all that character captured in a bottle the magic of aging begins. This time in bottle is the opportunity for the complex acids, sugars, minerals and phenolics to harmonise. Over time the harsh phenolics with impart their value and precipitate as sediment in the bottle.
Martin has developed the Paserene Range to be perfect wines for aging, while the Elements range has a wonderful balance to be enjoyed now or set down to mature. Engaging in the time-honoured practice of aging a bottle of wine is a test of patience. The reward is the gift of that moment in time that tells the story of terroir, varietal and handcrafting in perfect harmony. The reward is the opportunity to open and share this wine tasting experience with friends and family.