A tale of two top dogs

At Painted Wolf Wines we always marvel at the way in which African wild dogs work together and support each other for the good of the pack.  Ever since we started on our winemaking journey, we have taken inspiration from these animals that are at the heart of everything we do.  This is why, when it comes to making any Painted Wolf Wine, collaboration is the name of the game. This month we have been delighted to have Top Ten wines in both the Shiraz and Pinotage reports published by Winemag, and we would like to tell you the tale of the wonderful collaborations that enabled us to make these outstanding wines. You could say that our Guillermo Pinotage is our flagship wine, now in its 11th vintage, and it certainly holds a very special place in our hearts as well as those of many of our customers.  This wine is named for Billy “Guillermo” Hughes, who has been involved with Painted Wolf Wines from the very beginning.  Jeremy used to help Billy make his Nativo wines, and Billy was one of our first investors, trading grapes for shares in Painted Wolf Wines. Over the years we have been extremely fortunate to be able to source the grapes for Guillermo from his organic Kasteelsig vineyard near Malmesbury, making Billy our most important partner when it comes to crafting Guillermo. However, as the effects of the drought reduced the size of the Kasteelsig crop, it became apparent that we were going to need a little extra help with our 2019 Guillermo. Enter our friends at Leeuwenkuil, who vinified some Pinotage from their best Swartland blocks for us. We then matured this wine in our own barrels at Koopmanskloof.  We found ourselves with two batches of wines made in very different ways, the Leeuwenkuil portion having been fermented in a rototank, and the Kasteelsig portion in open fermenters and hand-punched several times a day. The marriage of these two wines resulted in the exquisite Guillermo Pinotage 2019. Our Walker Bay Syrah 2018 is precisely the kind of wine that we love to make – understated and elegant yet rich with savoury complexity balancing out the pure red and black berry flavours. This wine was also born from some unexpected partnerships, again hastened along by the drought. Most of our grapes come from the drier regions of the Swartland and Paarl which were hardest hit, so we started to look other regions which were less affected. We were excited to find these Syrah grapes at the Blue Gum vineyard in Walker Bay, but having agreed to buy them were less excited to find that we were not able to take them to the cellar where we had planned to make the wine!  But there is always a plan to be made, and at the last minute Villiersdorp Cellar stepped in – they crushed and fermented the grapes for us and we then placed the wine in our barrels at Koopmanskloof. This is where the plot thickens…we were only able to take 10 tonnes of the crop, and the remaining 4 tonnes were sent to Lismore to be vinified on behalf of the grower.  30% of the grapes were whole-bunch fermented, resulting in a rich, peppery and tannic wine. When the grower unexpectedly offered to sell it to us, we knew that we could blend this with our wine to create something really special.  We took the wine to Koopmanskloof, introduced it to the wine we already had in barrel there, and our Walker Bay Syrah 2018 was born. So there you have it. We are proud to have had these opportunities to work with such accomplished figures in our industry, and the results of these partnerships speak for themselves. Painted wolves would not be able to survive without the incredible support network that exists within the pack, and we too find that amazing things happen if you are not afraid to accept a little help from a friend.  We hope that you will enjoy the fruits of our collaborative approach to winemaking.
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