With as distinguished a history as that of Haute Cabriere, it is impressive that the estate has such a passion and drive towards innovation, whilst still showing a great respect and wonder for the past.
Pioneering has been with Haute Cabriere since the beginning. So what stories of innovation surround where Haute Cabriere is now? There are many, so here we focus on just a small selection that show what makes Haute Cabriere a wine estate that is constantly innovating and developing.
Chardonnay Pinot Noir
In 1994, the 60/40 blend of still Chardonnay Pinot Noir was unique and remained so for approximately a decade. Riaan van Niekerk, Managing Director of Haute Cabriere told us when we recently visited the estate, “It’s a wine that you can even give to people that don’t normally enjoy white wine and they will enjoy it. It’s a wine that doesn’t easily make enemies.”
It turns out that the discovery of this blend was accidental. Following a smaller than usual harvest, a part of the base wine ended up with 12% alcohol, unsuitable for producing their Cap Classique. Achim von Arnim decided to make the best of the situation, bottling this as a still blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% white Pinot Noir. The rest is history, with this wine becoming a hit not only in South Africa, but also in the UK.
Haute Cabriere’s fortified wine, under the Pierre Jourdan label, is Ratafia. Made with Chardonnay from a specific block reserved solely for production of Ratafia and fortified with oak aged brandy, this is a delicious sweet wine.
Besides Champagne, Ratafia de Champagne is the only other wine produced in that region of France. And Pierre Jourdan is the only producer in the world outside of Champagne that produces this particular Ratafia.
A delightful story surrounds the creation of Ratafia at Haute Cabriere. A French student was spending time at Haute Cabriere and he wanted to eat snails. So he went about gathering snails from the farm to the horror of all the farm workers! Then he said, “We don’t have anything to drink with the snails!” It was harvest time, so Chardonnay juice was available. The student decided to fortify the Chardonnay with Fine de Jourdan fortified potstill brandy, which was available at that time under the Pierre Jourdan label. Et voilà! Ratafia was born!
Unwooded Pinot Noir
Haute Cabriere’s unique Unwooded Pinot Noir is an elegant wine full of fruit and unencumbered by oak. First launched in 2011, it is Haute Cabriere’s hope that this style of Pinot Noir will encourage those who are not partial to red wine to give the red-white wine, Pinot Noir, a chance.
In September 2016, Haute Cabriere launched PJ Pops™, a wine popsicle. These are the first home grown wine popsicle in South Africa. They were created by JM Consulting and come in two styles, Pierre Jourdan Brut and Pierre Jourdan Tranquille.
The launch was a phenomenal success on social media, with 2 million hits on the video, and created a new generation of Haute Cabriere fans!
Lower alcohol wines
Wine tastes are changing and as a result, there is an increasing demand for lower alcohol wines. Wine estates across the globe are producing lower alcohol wines and Haute Cabriere is one of these. Pierre Jourdan Tranquille is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, an exact mirror of the Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir. This light, elegant wine has only 11.5% alcohol which makes it the ideal wine for summer.
Haute Cabriere has so many stories of innovation and the creation of Tranquille is another great story. Another French student was spending time at the estate. He had an unfortunate accident and broke his knee. As he recovered, he stayed at home with Achim and Hildegard von Arnim. He told them that he loved all the different wines that Haute Cabriere produced and that there was a wine for every occasion. However, he complained that there was no wine for breakfast. And thus Tranquille was born!
Pere et Fils – looking toward the future
Achim von Arnim began building Haute Cabriere in 1982 and over the past two decades, his eldest son Takuan has worked with him, starting as apprentice, and in 2014, he took on the role of cellar master. More recently, Takuan has also taken on the role of production director. The father and son team have grown and developed the wine portfolio of Haute Cabriere together, with Takuan taking an increased involvement in recent years.
This period of father and son transition will continue until Takuan fully takes the reins by early 2019.
Achim’s philosophy of Sun Soil Vine Man will continue to beat at the heart of Haute Cabriere wines, representing the belief that great wine is grown, whilst the innovation and development of great wines will forge ahead, carrying with it these guiding principles.
Our blog post next week will continue to focus on Haute Cabriere, and will move from innovation to sustainability and community.
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