VINEYARDS: Raats Cabernet Franc comes from vineyards planted on cooler, southern facing slopes in Stellenbosch. The vines range from 18 to 25 years old and are unirrigated. Decomposed dolomite granite soils lend great acidity and freshness to the wines, as well as a lovely minerality on the finish. VINTAGE: The winter and spring preceding the 2014 vintage were cold and among the wettest in years. The growing season was long and cool, with grapes ripening slowly and seeing lengthier hang times than usual. Harvest occurred slightly later than normal, with below average yields. The resulting wines display great elegance and finesse. VINIFICATION AND MATURATION: Individual vineyard blocks were handpicked at perfect ripeness. The grapes were hand sorted three times, then crushed and left to cold soak on the skins for five days before fermentation. Once fermentation was complete, the wine was basket pressed and racked to stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation. It was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels (25% new, 25% second fill, 25% third fill and 25% fourth fill) and was bottled without fining or filtration. TASTING NOTES: The nose entices with its perfume and a garrigue character of Cape fynbos, rosemary, lavender and thyme. Intense brooding blackberry fruit pairs with spicy notes of nutmeg, cloves and star anise. The palate exhibits blueberry, mulberry, brambles, dark cherries, licorice and spice. Complex and textured, fine grained silky tannins balance the dark berry fruit. Blue- and blackberries dominate the smooth finish with hints of dark chocolate.
Founded in 2001, Raats Family Wines is focused solely on crafting world class Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, best known as the premier grapes of France's Loire Valley. The boutique winery has quickly established itself as a New World leader in the production of these two varietals, garnering tremendous critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base. As Wine Spectator noted in a recent online feature, "South Africa's Raats Family winery makes outstanding Chenin Blanc." Proprietor and winemaker Bruwer Raats firmly believes that South Africa's proliferation of older Chenin Blanc vineyards provides a unique opportunity to craft terroir-driven wines that serve as international benchmarks for the varietal. Raats owns several hectares of estate vineyards in the Polkadraai Hills and also sources Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc from several extremely low-yielding old vines parcels characterized by complex soils of sandstone and decomposed granite. Bruwer maintains complete control of viticulture at these sites, located at an average of 820 feet above sea level in the prime Bottelary Hills, Simonsberg and Blaauwklippen areas of Stellenbosch. The Raats Family range consists of five wines. The crisp, unwooded "Original" Chenin Blanc, whose name reflects the fact that there is no oak to mask its vibrant fresh fruit character, is packaged under screwcap. The luscious, partially barrel fermented and aged Chenin Blanc strikes a perfect balance between elegance and power, setting the standard for South African Chenin and rivaling the finest Loire Valley offerings. While Raats is best known for their sublime Chenins, Bruwer also crafts scant quantities of an exquisite Cabernet Franc that shows the heights this under-the radar grape can achieve in the hands of a master! Bruwer also produces Red Jasper, which portrays the varietal in a silky, luscious Bordeaux blend and Dolomite Cabernet Franc, a slightly lighter, less serious "little brother" to the flagship Cabernet Franc. For Bruwer, the greatest part of crafting wines under your own label is that "you don't have to worry about shareholders or catering to a market, or to keeping within a cellar's style. You can have freedom of expression in something that you believe in." With his passionate belief in the classic, versatile and decidedly stylish varietals of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, Raats continues to win over hordes of thirsty consumers worldwide!
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