A.A. Badenhorst is the result of one family’s long-term love affair with wine. The estate is owned by cousins Adi and Hein Badenhorst – their grandfather was the farm manager of Groot Constantia for 46 years and their fathers grew up on the estate. A graduate of Elsenburg College in South Africa, Adi moved overseas to work harvests at Chateau Angelus, Alain Graillot and Wither Hills in New Zealand. He returned to South Africa and worked at Simonsig, Steenberg and Groote Post before his appointment as winemaker for Rustenberg, the highly regarded estate in Stellenbosch.
The Swartland appellation of South Africa has become ground central for a small, but influential group of talented young winemakers who are establishing new boundaries for South African wines. A.A. Badenhorst is located in the Siebritskloof area of the Paardeberg mountain range in Swartland. In 2008, after working with Rustenberg for nine years, Hein and Adi bought a dilapidated 148 acre farm called Kalmoesfontein for its 62 acres of old bush vines. Their Cinsault (Cape Hermitage) and Grenache vines are some of the oldest in the country – the average age is 45 years old and 58 years respectively – and their Chenin Blanc is on average 40 years old. The vineyards are dry-farmed and biodynamic methods are practiced throughout the farm. The vineyards are particularly noteworthy for their exposition – instead of facing one direction; the parcels were planted on east, north and south facing slopes. The soils are composed of low-bearing Paardeberg, Lammershoek or Lemoenfontein granite.
While Adi and Hein have modernized the cellar and the 1930’s farm house, Adi’s winemaking methods are traditional. All the wines begin with whole bunches. The white grapes are transferred directly into old casks or concrete tanks for fermentation and aging. The red grapes are fermented in concrete tanks or wood casks. Minimal sulfur is added before and after fermentation, otherwise, no other stabilizers or chemicals of any kind are used. Both A.A. Badenhorst estate wines are made in the same manner. The grapes were sorted in the vineyard and placed in refrigerated containers to rest overnight. The whole bunches were fermented naturally in concrete or wood tanks – the grapes weren’t mechanically crushed, but trodden by foot and minimal sulfur was added. Once fermentation began, the must was punched down twice per day and then left on its skins for six months before pressing. The wine was pressed into 4000L casks and aged for 16 months, during which time the wine was topped regularly but not racked until the final blends are complete.
Region: Swartland, South Africa
Year Founded: 2007
Proprietors: The handsome cousins, Hein and Adi Badenhorst
Winemaker: Adi Badenhorst
Size of property: 100 ha (247 acres) total, 43 ha (106 acres) planted
Terroir: The winery is located on a mountain range which is a granite outcrop and three distinctive types of granitic soil are found on this property - specifically Paardeberg, Lammershoek and Lemoenfontein granites. The soils are extremely old and considered by many to be ‘low potential ‘ as vine growth is not as luxeriant as in other areas. Yields are generally quite low averaging 3-4 tons/ha for Chenin Blanc. No irrigation is used as the soild have the potential to store a good amount of water and slowly release during the growing season. Rainfall is around 480mm/yr falling mainly in the winter months of May – August/September. Winters tend to be cold and wet and leaf fall is quite sudden with the onset of Winter. Otherwise, the weather is pretty much medditteranean.
Annual Production: 10,000 cases
Varieties Cultivated: White: Chenin Blanc, Clairette Blance, Roussane, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Colombar + 5 others Red: Grenache, Cinsault, Shiraz and Tinta Barocca
Cellar Door: By appointment only.
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