Dig into Tim Hoek’s 10-Year Journey at Haute Cabrière with the 2024 Harvest

by Kyla Van Heerden

Celebrating a decade of shared passion and commitment, we are thrilled to bring you the latest insights from our vineyards and the distinguished perspective of our Cellar Master, Tim Hoek.

As Tim marks his 10th vintage with Haute Cabrière, we reflect on a journey that began with the exploration of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, anchored in the belief that exceptional wines are born in the vineyard, where greatness finds its roots.

Perched on the valley slopes of Franschhoek, surrounded by mountains on three sides and blessed with late-morning and lingering evening sunlight, our winemaking philosophy is deeply intertwined with the unique terroir of the region. The slow and balanced ripening of grapes, influenced by the topography, imbues our wines with fruit-forward flavour profiles. Higher-than-average rainfall and cooler temperatures contribute to the refined minerality, enhancing the balanced elegance of our Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs. Together, these elements create the unmistakable fingerprint of Franschhoek wines.

As we look forward to the upcoming vintage of Haute Cabrière wines, the spotlight remains on Chardonnay, celebrated as the ‘winemaker’s grape,’ embodying the essence, character, and diversity of each vintage. Simultaneously, Pinot Noir, known as ‘the heartbreak grape,’ stands as the emblem of resilience, soul, and depth.

The 2024 harvest brings its own set of nuances, building upon the lessons learned from the previous vintage. The early harvest in 2023, spurred by an exceptionally mild winter and further accelerated by heavy rainfall and cooler conditions in December, provided our team at Haute Cabrière with a unique challenge. Picking Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes weeks earlier than our customary timeline, we once again witnessed how the forces of nature define the course of our wines more profoundly than human influence.

This week, we had the privilege of catching up with our revered Cellar Master, Tim Hoek, whose wealth of experience and dedication to the craft continue to shape the trajectory of Haute Cabrière wines. As Tim reflects on the past 10 years, we invite you to savour the anticipation of what the future holds for our vineyards and the legacy of Haute Cabrière.

Describe the transformations you’ve observed over the past decade with Haute Cabrière

My first harvest at Cabriere was in 2015, coinciding with the onset of a severe drought that persisted in the following years. The adaptability of vineyards and techniques developed during that challenging period continues to influence our approach. In the cellar, our toolbox has expanded significantly in recent years. Stabilization and antioxidant tannins have emerged as valuable tools, aiding in reducing sulfur use and minimizing oxidation. Conducting trials on small batches has been incredibly exciting, unveiling the transformative impact of these products.

What noteworthy projects are on the horizon for you that spark excitement?

The Amphora project at Haute Cabriere continues to evolve positively. Last year, we bottled our first certified Old Vine Amphora Chardonnay as a Cap Classique, poised for release after a few more years of maturation. This year, commemorating 30 years of the iconic Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend, we embarked on Haute Cabriere’s first field blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Harvesting and co-loading both grape varieties, we pressed them together, fermenting the blend in a new 550-litre Amphora. The ongoing fermentation process shows great promise. The rationale behind this co-fermentation is to temper the expressive varietal characteristics, allowing the terroir to shine. The choice of amphora for fermentation and aging ensures a nuanced texture without imparting additional flavours from the vessels.

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