South Africa’s old-vine wines are becoming increasingly sought-after locally and abroad, as consumers learn more about these unique wines forged by time and endurance. As one of the country’s oldest and most iconic wine brands, Bellingham was one of the first wineries to celebrate our old-vine heritage with the acclaimed The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc.
The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc originates from 2 exceptional vineyards aged between 35 and 47 years. These low-yielding old bush vines allow the grapes to grow in their most natural state, with the ideal amount of vigour and exposure to sunlight. They are planted in mineral-rich weathered granite soil and cooled by breezes from both Table and False Bay. This terroir yields fruit with rare complexity, stellar acidity and balance. The Old Vine Chenin Blanc is now an official member of an industry initiative that seeks to preserve the country’s prized old vineyard sites and advocate a premium for the wines made from them.
The Old Vine Project (OVP) was established in 2016 to preserve vineyards older than 35 years by creating an awareness of the heritage of old vines. Wineries can certify their qualifying wines as ‘Old Vine’, and the public will knowingly buy wines that are made from the country’s many ancient patches of vineyards. Consumers can follow the history of member wines like The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc and read their fascinating stories on the Old Vine Project website. These wines bear the Certified Heritage Vineyards seal and are listed on the OVP database.
Local and international wine experts seem to agree that there are distinctive qualities to the grapes more mature vines yield. As Rosa Kruger, renowned viticulturist and co-founder of The Old Vine Project says: “Age in vines brings intensity, a perceived freshness, a texture and a sense of place. They show less fresh fruit and varietal character, and more terroir and soil.”
These characteristics come to life in the Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc in the form of layered, concentrated flavours, textured mouthfeel, and fresh minerality derived from decades of assimilation with soil and sea breezes. With its outstanding purity and depth of character, it makes a compelling case indeed for the preservation of characterful old vines as an essential part of our wine heritage.