Firstly to achieve quality the emphasis is placed on terroir and viticultural best practices.
We source our fruit from premium vineyards of the Golden Triangle of Stellenbosch. In these vineyards the canopy management, yields, irrigation and harvesting are all under our own fastidious control.
Here, a diversity of soil types with a predominance of Hutton and Clovelly offers a rare combination: great water retention and excellent drainage. This means either no irrigation or drip-irrigation is used – which practically eliminates crop damage. Combined with a cool, seabreeze-kissed climate, the result is the perfect fruit for our subtly complex red blends: high quality smaller berries at optimum ripeness and colour, packed with fruitiness and smooth tannins.
Secondly as per the benchmark set by respected négociants from France, we buy in premium quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec – the classic red Bordeaux varietals.
Cabernet Sauvignon performs particularly well in Stellenbosch. It is arguably the strongest red cultivar in South Africa, which is why we insist that it should be the backbone of our wines. This single-minded dedication to Bordeaux-style wines saw the induction of Les Sweidan into the Commanderie de Bordeaux en Afrique de Sud, the South African chapter of the worldwide Commanderie that unites producers and wine lovers who share a passion for Bordeaux.
Thirdly we use the finest French oak barrels for the maturation of our noble blends. In the ancient oak forests of France, growth is slow allowing the wood to develop the tight grain that our winemaker prefers – both for the optimum transfer rate of oxygen and the exchange of flavour nuances. Skilled French coopers hand-craft the centuries-old wood – shaping, seasoning, sorting and assembling the staves to produce the barrels.
The tannins and bouquets derived from these amazingly well crafted barrels add to the complexity of our wines and transition smoothly onto the palate; chocolate, mocha and cigar box notes are all derived from the French oak.
The influence the wood imparts to the maturing wine is subtle and spicy. This, and the skills of our winemaker, account for our wines’ signature complexity and elegance.
HIGH ROAD PRACTICES
Fourthly vinification, maturation and bottling, a non-negotiable set of procedures and benchmarks defines the integrity of our wines. The High Road Practices guide us and keep us on the high ground of principled winemaking and business ethics.
Grapes are carefully harvested in small lug boxes so as to avoid premature crushing and spontaneous fermentation. On arrival at the cellar, the grapes are chilled overnight and the following day the bunches and berries are hand-sorted. Only those in prime condition are crushed. Fermentation follows – a lengthy and carefully monitored process. The next step is maturation where constant temperature is maintained.