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CLONEHEAD CLUB

“Our commitment is to make the best wines possible from the vine clones best suited to our unique terroir.

Our grapes are grown in the cool climate vineyards of Elgin in the Western Cape of South Africa. We produce only a very limited number of cases of Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay and Kershaw Elgin Syrah each vintage. Our aim always is to produce some of the best wines of their style in South Africa.

Our Clonehead Club is your chance to secure a priority allocation and the opportunity to receive regular news updates and information about event we may be hosting.”

Richard Kershaw

To become a Club member and secure your allocation, all you need to do is purchase a
6-bottle case of Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay and a 6-bottle case of Kershaw Elgin Syrah.
Follow this link to join

FAQ

Why should I sign up?
Fulfilment of reservation requests is not guaranteed, due to the limited quantity of wine made each year. By joining our Clonehead Club you will have the opportunity to purchase the limited wines available in each vintage, in addition to receiving news updates.

When must payment be made for the wine?
As we produce a very limited quantity of wine, we would suggest you to make your purchase now to avoid disappointment. Once your order is processed, an invoice will be emailed to you detailing payment and delivery dates.

What are the delivery costs?
Delivery costs (for South Africa only) are included in the purchase of your wine. Please contact us regarding availability of deliveries to other countries.

Can I visit the property?
We regret that the property cannot accommodate tours and because of the small quantity of wine produced, we do not offer tastings.

ABOUT RICHARD KERSHAW
FOUNDER AND WINEMAKER OF RICHARD KERSHAW WINES

Born and raised in the UK, Richard enjoyed a successful career as a chef before finding wine. After travelling extensively, he arrived in South Africa in 1999 and by 2009 was Group Winemaker of Mulderbosch and Kanu.

Now an International Master of Wine, Richard is pursuing his dream of making his own wine in the cool climate of Elgin in the Overberg region of the Western Cape.

Apart from making wines, Richard Kershaw has a website www.rikipedia.co which blogs about all aspects of wine and winemaking. Additionally he writes technical blogs, is involved with lecturing for the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) recently set up in South Africa and is much in demand for wine show judging.

HISTORY OF RICHARD KERSHAW WINES

Richard Kershaw Wines (RKW) was established in January 2012 to create clonally selected, site-specific, cool climate wine paradigms from apposite noble grapes i.e. ones with the ability to produce world-class examples. SA's coolest wine district, Elgin Valley, reflected these principles benefitting from higher altitude, ocean proximity, specific cloud cover sequencing, high cold units and a large diurnal range, enabling the germane grapes, Chardonnay and Syrah, to show a sense of place.

The climate leans toward Southern Burgundy and the Northern Rhône, prerequisites for using Chardonnay and Syrah respectively. Additionally both these grapes are deemed "noble" in that they have the ability to produce top end world-class examples and show positive development attributes through age.

The Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay makes use of the lower-yielding Dijon clones*, namely 76, 95 & 96 developed at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France, (see Clonal Selection) whilst the Kershaw Elgin Syrah makes use of local clones 9c and 22.

Furthermore, each wine is made from 3-4 small parcels on terroir-specific plots with particular soils types. They are all handpicked into small lugs and vinified in Elgin travelling no more than 10-15 minutes between vineyard and cellar, and avoiding unnecessary crushing and premature juice oxidation. In the cellar, they are handled minimally using a gravity-fed system that avoids pumping and no products are added to the wine. Lastly they are made by South Africa's only winemaking Master of Wine, Richard Kershaw.

Stylistically, the aim for RKW is to faithfully reproduce the particular attributes associated with wines from these areas. In the case of the Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay the aspiration is for a restrained, mineral style focused on elegance with a white, fruit character, some oatmeal, and complexity gained from percipient wood; for the Kershaw Syrah the desire is subtlety and precision built on fine tannins that educes harmony, freshness and flavours of black fruit, iodine, medicinal notes and black pepper.

ELGIN CLIMATE

Elgin is the coolest wine region in South Africa, well below Stellenbosch and other well-known wine regions of the Western Cape.

Essentially temperatures rarely go above 35°C and generally one wakes up to an agreeably cool day, occasionally swirling in sea-borne mists. Typically, in February, the hottest month of the year, we have cool nights with temperatures dipping to 14°C, a morning of 16°C and beautiful clear days peaking at about 23°C. The grapes simply love it, but sometimes the family are not so enthusiastic!

The benefit of cooler climates is that the grape cluster stays connected to its roots for longer, developing more characteristics and achieving physiological ripeness more gradually with lower sugar levels and consequently lower alcohols. The resultant wines leave one with an impression of delicacy, but also power and insistence over warmer-climate examples, which show bolder but less-persistent flavours.

ELGIN GEOGRAPHY

Elgin has recently been reclassified as a district (demarcated viticultural area) in the Cape South Coast region of South Africa's Western Cape.

Elgin is surrounded by mountains, and thus there are distinct delimitations topographically as to where the region starts and finishes.

The Elgin Valley is situated on an inland, hexagonal-shaped plateau, at an altitude of 300 metres, surrounded by mountains, only 10km from the Atlantic Ocean.

Within the district of Elgin there are a number of wards and sub-wards that can be identified prior to single vineyard pinpointing. These include areas around the Palmiet River, the areas south towards the southern Kloof, the areas buttressed either side of the N2, and areas to the East and West of Grabouw.

Essentially, the Elgin district is an undulating landscape presenting perfect opportunities for vineyard site selection.Still a young wine region, Elgin will, over the ensuing months and years, undertake a more comprehensive understanding

Click here for map of Kershaw Wines

ELGIN SOIL

Elgin is principally an apple region in which wine is increasingly being made, although 80% of the land is still devoted to apples and pears.

Soils make up part of what the French call Terroir and the Argentinians call Teruta – It is the interactions of the climate, soils, slope, drainage, and viticulture of the land that makes wine taste the way it does.

Soil is more than a medium in which to plant the vine. Whilst it does not directly impart character, i.e. flintiness from flinty soils, it does impact various nuances depending on its type.

The soils that are used to grow the grapes for Kershaw Chardonnay and Kershaw Syrah come from a variety of gravel-based soils:

  • Tukulu (50% gravel, 25% friable clay and 25% sand) giving elegance, freshness and aromatics
  • Koue Bokkeveld shales in three parcels giving structure and concentration of flavours
  • one parcel of sand and pebbles (essentially Table Mountain sandstone) giving delicacy and fruity flavours

OUR WINES

At Richard Kershaw Wines, we currently produce clonal Chardonnay and Syrah, using grapes from the cool climate vineyards of Elgin.

Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay

Clonally defined, site-specific Chardonnay made from Dijon clones 76, 95 & 96 sourced in Elgin. Restrained, mineral style focussed on elegance with a white fruit character, some oatmeal and complexity gained from percipient wood application.
Click here to See the tasting notes for 2012 Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay

Kershaw Elgin Syrah

Clonally defined, site-specific Syrah made from clones 9c & 21 sourced in Elgin. Subtle, precise style built on fine tannins that educes harmony, freshness and flavours of black fruit, iodine, medicinal and black pepper.

Selecting the best clonal varieties for the terroir, and the characteristics of the wines we seek to produce, winemaker Richard Kershaw makes wine that is a true reflection of what is in the vine and soil - delicate, fresh, structured and complex.

CLONAL SELECTION

At Richard Kershaw Wines (RKW), we have selected particular clones of Chardonnay and Syrah grapes that are most suitable for the cool climatic conditions that Elgin offers.

These labels emphasise this important and often disregarded aspect of varietal choice – that of clone. The Kershaw Chardonnay uses clonal varieties of Chardonnay developed at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France, known as the "Dijon clones", namely clone 95, 76 and 96 while the Kershaw Syrah makes use of the local South African clones 9c and 22.

Listed below are their flavour profiles:

CY 96 produces wines that are nervous, aromatic, elegant and sharp with slightly lower alcohol and finely balanced. In South Africa this creates more white peach and citrus/orange peel flavours along with nutty elements.

CY95 is known for its excellent quality creating wines that are aromatic, fuller bodied and rich yet tightly structured, well–balanced with length of flavour, managing to show restraint and mouth-watering passivity with a great line through the palate. I find that in South Africa the CY95 brings a yellow peach and tropical note.

CY76 tends to yield aromatic (lifted floral), fine wines that are minerally and tight, typically well-balanced and underpinned by a rich palate structure with great ageing potential. The fruit profile leans towards melons, figs, stone fruits, lemons, nuts, and cashews – for me white peach and lemon are particularly emphasised. CY76 and CY95 are particularly successful as a blend, with CY95 bringing structure to the wine whilst CY76 brings finesse.

SH 9c produces wines in cooler areas that are well scented, delicately balanced and savoury. They are medium in weight resonating elegance, finesse of tannin, and purity of fruit, the flavours revealing more white pepper, violet/lavender, Victoria plum and iodine. They tend to exude freshness and energy with lively acidity giving precision to the wine.

SH 22 produces fuller, well coloured yet finely structured wines. They tend to be more concentrated as yields are low with more black fruit, black pepper and meaty notes working well as a minor blending partner for SH 9c.

Vineyard owners and winemakers love clones the world over as they can select the best clonal varieties for their terroir and the characteristics of the wine they want to produce, rather like a chef selects the best local and seasonal produce to create his menu.

VINIFICATION

The grapes are hand-picked in the cool early morning, placed in 10kg white berry baskets and tipped directly into a press for whole-bunch pressing. The juice goes directly to barrel. The Chardonnay undergoes direct pressing and the Syrah is double-sorted by bunch and then by individual berry, before being gravity-fed into tanks. The juices receive no added yeast, enzymes or acid. The wines are racked to barrel and the remaining must pressed in a basket press, then tasted before being added to the final blend.

Why white berry baskets?
White baskets reflect any heat from the sun

Why whole-bunch pressing?
It gives less lees and direct pressing means less oxidation and phenolics, etc. and gentler handling of the grapes.

Why sorting?
  • To reduce MOG: Material other than grapes
  • To remove any green berries
  • To remove jacks
  • To remove rotten berries/bunches
  • To remove bird damaged berries
  • To remove shrivelled or raisined berries
  • To remove unripe grapes
  • To remove oxidised juice that may be present in the trays

Why gravity fed?
Grapes handled by gravity fed principles have not been processed through a pump of any sort.

When a pump is used it requires the medium, be it must or juice, to flow through a small orifice, usually 50mm in diameter. This mechanical action can have negative effects on the must and juice:

  • It influences the level of suspended solids in the resultant juices and wines
  • Poor pump action - long must lines and small diameter lines exacerbate this in the form of fluid friction. This results in further generation of solids and shear stress or shearing** of grape skins and damage of seeds
  • Pumping also introduces possible contamination via either unclean lines or pumps
  • It introduces possible oxidation if lines are poorly maintained as leakage on the lines or at connections will introduce air. This is especially relevant as it causes excessive aeration of the wine if the seal leaks or there is a leak in the suction line
  • As pumps are used to push must or wine to an elevated height. This will have an increasingly negative impact the higher one goes, increasing the fluid friction on the wine as gravity pushes the wine back, resulting in high shearing** of solids especially when pumping against a head

** Shearing is defined as that action (turbulence) which will reduce the particle size of solids (skins and seeds) or introduce excessive aeration to the juice or wine. The amount of shearing tends to increase with increased pump speed.

Transfer methods involving gravity feed systems thus eliminate all these potential problems. At the cellar we utilise the slopes of the hillsides and the forklift truck. Additionally the rate of filling is actually slower, a particular advantage (desirability) when filling and emptying barrels.

Why no added yeast, enzymes or acid?
Essentially the grapes have been picked at perfect ripeness. They do not need any more acid as their acid level is sufficient. They are whole-bunch pressed and thus their polyphenol counts will be low. They also have not been destemmed and crushed which damages the berries' integrity. As such, we press the grapes whole bunch lightly so our juice recovery is quite low. We do not want to over-press, a common practice for normal wineries simply to extract every last drop. Our grapes do not need enzymes as, again, we do not need high juice recovery to accommodate the bottom line. Nothing else is added.

Why a basket press for reds?
We prefer to use a basket press as it:

  • Is more gentle than more modern designs
  • Is capable of small loads for micro vinification
  • Allows more control over the final blend
  • Yields higher quality press wine
  • Is great for delicate finicky varietals like Pinot Noir and even cool climate delicate Syrah

MATURATION

Barrel fermentation is the process of letting grape juice sit in a large wooden barrel (usually oak), during which time yeast turns the sugar in the grapes into alcohol and the juice is converted into wine. In other words, it is alcoholic fermentation within an oak vat (as opposed to a steel one).

During maturation the white wine is left unsulphured for as long as possible and allowed to go through a natural malic acid conversion. The reds undergo malic in barrel. In terms of maturation, oak barrels are chosen from coopers that inhibit extraction. To help reduce the uptake of wood, larger format barrels of 500-litres are used alongside the traditional 225-litres. A portion of the Chardonnay and Syrah remains unwooded.

Why barrel fermentation?
Barrel fermentation integrates the oak far better than a wine merely barrel aged. A touch of malolactic fermentation (albeit 20%) softens the acidity, imparts richness to the flavour and by partially doing malolactic fermentation one can give the wines a crisp, bright finish. It also adds structure and complexity.

The different oaks also impart various characters: French oak from Quercus Robur has a high extractable polyphenol content; making wines more structured and less aromatic, whereas Quercus Sessiflora (from Vosges in central France) generally impart more aroma and less structure.

Barrel fermentation also affects the ageing of wines as the barrels impart a slight and controlled exposure to oxygen, which helps to aid the structure and character of the wine. For a 225-litre barrel this oxygen amounts to 20-40 mg of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) per litre per year although some is consumed by the ellagitannins (structure modifiers that increase colour, astringent) in the oak. Oxygen also passes through the gaps in the staves and the bunghole.

The effect of low levels of oxygen is that the colour is intensified because of the reactions between tannins and anthocyanins, and tannins are typically softened by polymerization, which eventually causes them to precipitate out of the wine.

Barrels also help contribute to the wine's structure. The important flavour compounds in oak are lactones, vanillan, guaiacol (char-like, smoky aroma, spicy), eugenol (clove like), furfurol & 5-methylfuffural (caramel and butterscotch with hint of almond), ellagitannins, courmarins (bitter and acidic).

Essentially the lactones (cis and trans isomers of methyl-y-octalactone) play the role of imparting coconut or oak notes with the cis described as having an earthy, herbaceous character as well as coconut, and the trans add spice to the coconut aroma.

Vanillan - the main aroma component is natural vanilla, present in significant quantities. Barrel fermenting the wines mean that the yeast metabolism reduces the vanilla concentration by turning it into the odourless vanillic alcohol. Thus barrel-fermented wines smell less oaky than wines fermented in tank and transferred to barrel, despite being longer in oak.

Older barrels are important to add other complexities besides oak. They impart less flavour on the wine but still enjoy the same controlled oxygen exposure important in resolving a wine's structural elements.

LABEL & BOTTLE EXPLANATION

Our Kershaw Wine labels

The blue background represents Elgin's cool climate.

The three icons on the top left of our label form a hallmark. Hallmarking is a form of regulation and consumer protection dating back 700 years. King Edward I of England passed a law requiring silver to be of sterling standard to match coinage, and introduced an assay or hallmark system. As such:

The 'C' symbol signifies a year, 1970 – the year in which our winemaker, Richard Kershaw, was born.

The 'rose' denotes a sense of place being both:

  • the assay (or hallmark) stamp for silver made in Sheffield, England and referring to the flower of Yorkshire, the white rose, the county in which Sheffield is situated.
  • the flower of Elgin namely the indigenous marsh rose where the Kershaw Wines are made.

The knotted rope represents Richard's love of sailing.

The bottle capsule is silver in colour, denoting the connection with Sheffield where sterling silver cutlery is produced.

We use Diam corks - They are made from granulated natural cork in which the granulate (flour) has been cleaned with Supercritical CO2¹ effectively removing any 2,4,6-trichloranisole (TCA) off flavours. Once cleaned, it is moulded into a closure and by varying the ratio of cork flour, microspheres and the food grade binding agent can have a spectrum of Oxygen Transmission Rates (OTR) depending on our specifications. Over the course of the last 12 years we have bench tested them and to date the results have been outstanding with no corky flavours detected. Over the years the points we have noted are:

  1. No returns of bottles through TCA taint.
  2. Very high consistency rates between bottles i.e. No bottle variation
  3. Less cork dust in bottles. Almost none.
  4. More fruit
  5. Very acceptable extraction rates, the same as a conventional cork.
  6. No leakage
  7. Rapid dimensional recovery immediately after bottled (90 in 20 second; 95+ in 30)
  8. Less oxidation than natural cork or plastic cork
  9. Visually appealing

We bottle our wines in Burgundy bottles - they are heavy bottles with a moderate height body and almost vertically parallel sides, with gently sloping shoulders and a fatter girth than other wine bottles. The height of the shoulder and neck in combination is usually equal to or a bit more than the height of the body (heel to shoulder).

The Punt: Burgundy bottles have a smaller punt mark or 'dimple' at the base of the bottle than many other styles.

The Glass colour is Antique Green – this colour was chosen as it prevents ultra violet light from penetrating the contents of the bottle and causing spoilage.

We use glass bottles because glass:

  • does not react with the acidity of wine and therefore cause degradation.
  • is clear, allowing one to examine the wine in the light to determine age, maturity, and any sediment.
  • cost effective
  • does not allow oxygen to enter and affect the wine, with the small exception of around the cork in the neck.
  • provides good protection against contamination.

¹ Achieved through pressure and temperature parameters treated adjusted until CO2 has the properties of both a liquid and a gas enabling the CO2 to remove 2,4,6-trichloranisole (TCA) along with 150 additional compounds that are naturally found in corkwood which could potentially create off-flavours in wine. Used also for decaffeination of coffee, removal of specific flavours from hops for brewing industry and extracting specific esters for the perfume industry

CONTACT US

For all enquiries please email us info@richardkershawwines.co.za

Thank you for your interest in our wine.

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Tasting Notes

2012 Chardonnay Tasting Sheet

22.08.2013
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2012 Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay

2012 Chardonnay Wine Info Sheet

02.11.2013
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Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay 2012 by Richard Kershaw MW

2012 Kershaw Elgin Syrah

01.06.2014
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2012 Kershaw Elgin Syrah - information sheet

Harvest Notes

2012 Elgin Harvest Report

18.11.2013
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2012 Elgin Harvest Report

Climate of Elgin

18.11.2013
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How climate affects our wine...

2013 Elgin Harvest Report

10.12.2013
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2013 Elgin Harvest Report