(image found on Facebook, taken by Morgan Newman)
Our hearts go out to the people of the fire ravaged Cape peninsula, particularly the vineyards that were under threat, like those from Groot and Klein Constantia, as well as Cape Point Vineyards.
Even though some of the vineyards may escape the fire, the aftermath will be felt for a long time. There is a thing called smoke taint in wine. According to a study done by Washington State University, smoke residue contains volatile phenols like guaiacol and eugenol that accumulate in the grape skin and can later on be found in the wine. When the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, these compounds are released and can cause unpleasant flavours described as “ash tray”, “dirty” or “burnt”. Winemakers using grapes suspected of having been exposed to smoke are advised to reduce skin contact when making wine. But this is still a lottery and far from ideal.
Our sympathies go out to the affected wineries and we sincerely wish that they nevertheless make great wines in 2015.