Post House Wines, Stellenbosch, Cape Province, South Africa
Situated on a ridge, the Post House winery offers panoramic views of Cape Point, False Bay and the Helderberg Mountains. Winemaker Nick Gebers’ father bought the farm in 1981, a homestead which originally operated as a post office for the local mission. These are terroir driven wines with an emphasis on purity. The soil, with its gravel sub-soil, is both poor in fertility, cooling and stable in terms of water, so irrigation is rarely used. Yeasts are indigenous and there is a healthy all-round balance in the vineyard. The stage for excellence is set!
Certified organic wine production is a rarity in South Africa, but Nick’s operation uses an absolute minimum of interference, resorting to copper sulphate spray occasionally (which is permitted in organic farming). No additives are used in the winemaking, apart from the odd egg white and the resultant wines are very natural. Sulphites are very low for this part of the world.
Post House philosophy and winemaking:
“The objective is to interfere as little as possible in the creation of the wine making process. The importance of the terroir is fundamental to obtaining a high quality wine. In this context, terroir means to reject the more fertile soils in favour of leaner ground.”
For red wine, the grapes are fermented using natural yeasts in open stainless steel tanks (as above) at between 28 and 30ºC. In this way the wine remains true to its terroir and its micro-climate. The skins are punched down 4 to 8 times during peak fermentation. Sulphur levels are low: they are kept to a minimum and carefully balanced, to preserve the wine on the one hand while allowing it still to develop on the other. When necessary, the wines are racked in order to aid the development of the wine and remove unwanted sediment. The racking is done by gravitational flow: no mechanical pumps are used. There is no filtration, only a light egg white fining prior to bottling.
For the white wine, the crushed grapes undergo skin contact for only two hours. After just 24 hours in a settling tank, the must is racked straight into barrels where fermentation takes place. This keeps air contact to a minimum to promote clean varietal flavours. The grapes are allowed to ferment spontaneously with the aid of wild yeasts from the vineyard. By harvesting the grapes early in the morning while it is still cool and by using natural yeasts, the must fermentation is slow and remains fairly cool at around 17 to 19ºC. The wine is left on its lees and stirred regularly to enhance complexity. The wine is fined with bentonite but remains unfiltered before bottling and sulphur levels are kept low.