Waterford Estate Unveils the Highly Anticipated 2016 Vintage of The Jem

By Jeremy Maarschalk

Monday - 7 August 2023

Unveiling The Jem 2016, an icon blend.

7 August 2023 - Waterford Estate, renowned for its commitment to crafting exceptional wines,

has recently announced the highly anticipated release of the 2016 vintage of their iconic

creation, The Jem - an exquisite blend that embodies a sincere tribute to the vintage and the

wine estate's unique terroir.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Waterford Estate held several exclusive The Jem 2016

release events across the nation. Wine enthusiasts, sommeliers, and esteemed guests were

invited to experience the unparalleled artistry and passion that have gone into crafting The Jem

2016. These events served as an opportunity to share the unique story behind the wine and its

journey from vine to bottle.

During The Jem vintage release event at La Colombe Restaurant in Cape Town, Wade Bales and Manuel

Cabello engage in discussions with Waterford Estate's cellarmaster, Mark le Roux.

The Art of Blending

At Waterford Estate, the winemaking ethos is deeply rooted in the pursuit of crafting fine wine - wines with a captivating story, wines that authentically express their unique terroir, and wines whose unquestionable quality speaks for itself.

Blending is an art form honed by experienced winemakers and an intimate understanding of the terroir, rewarding the harmony between viticulturists and winemakers. This communication results in exceptional tools to craft a wine with a lasting legacy. The Jem blend is a wine that truly expresses the underlying philosophy at Waterford Estate, by reflecting the diversity and exceptional fruit of the farm.

The Journey to Excellence

During the release events, three flights were presented with the objective of showcasing purposeful wines, illuminating the path forward for Waterford Estate. Each flight demonstrated the diversity of Waterford Estate’s winemaking, exemplifying the ability to craft wines of brilliant quality and character.

The Cape Winemakers Guild 2003 Auction Reserve. 

“The Beginning” - In this flight The Cape Winemakers Guild 2003 Auction Reserve was tasted, a wine that stood as a darling prototype, an innovative attempt to harmonise the wine in precise mathematical proportions, reflecting the very essence of the estate’s planting. This bold creation served as a guiding light in approaching blends, its significance resonating to shape their blending practices today. The wine ignited inspiration within the Waterford Estate team and played a pivotal role in conceiving the idea of The Jem - a genuine testament to their newfound understanding and unwavering passion for excellence, deeply rooted in the fertile soils of South Africa.

“Finding our Purpose” - As Waterford Estate’s winemaking journey continued, they reinforced their true direction through the discovery of two extraordinary wines, each playing an important role in shaping their vineyard's purpose. The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon emerged as a revelation, inspiring a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and laying the foundation for the very backbone of the estate. Its refined palate and character awakened a profound sense of purpose within, driving Waterford Estate to strive for fine wine status in every bottle crafted.

Cellarmaster Mark le Roux, a driving force behind Waterford Estate's success, states, "It was as if everything clicked into place, and with Cabernet Sauvignon as the estate's identity, we thoughtfully selected the remaining estate varietals as brushstrokes, adding depth and complexity to the wine's palate, history, and pedigree. Layering each element delicately, we showcased the unique terroir of the estate, beautifully presented in The Jem 2011."

“Sharpening our Tools” - Amongst the array of exceptional wines that have guided Waterford Estate’s journey, the 2019 Single Vineyard Grenache stands as a shining example of the estate's diversity. The Jem 2016 represents the pinnacle of Waterford Estate’s winemaking process, seamlessly exuding the essence of their vineyards, the heart of their craft, and the spirit of nature that the wine estate wholeheartedly embraces. Working in harmony with nature, Waterford Estate has adopted regenerative farming practices, fostering vine health and sustainability. With a diverse planting of eleven varietals, they have a wealth of options for The Jem blend, yet Cabernet Sauvignon remains the undivided focus at Waterford Estate. Through consistent experience and shared knowledge, the wine estate has developed a profound understanding of their vineyards, which they skilfully harness with each varietal, moulding them into this rich expression not only of the estate but of South Africa as well.

Sommelier Higgo Jacobs immersed in the wine's aromatic exploration.

The Jem 2016 Blend - An artful expression of the Helderberg Mountain 

The Jem 2016, a masterful blend where experience, patience and skill lead to a reward of generosity and poise.

Winemaking - The blending process at Waterford Estate takes place six months into the wine maturation process. The wines are racked from barrel, and blended in small batches by Waterford Estate’s winemaker. This fluid wine blending style allows The Jem blend to showcase the best of the vintage by not striving to be a wine consistent in taste but consistent in quality.

Maturation - Once the blend has been chosen the wine is further matured in French oak barrels for a total of 21 months, 35% of the wine goes through a more rigorous oaking regime in new French oak barrels.

Cultivars - The Jem blend is layered with the backbone of the farm Cabernet Sauvignon making up 48% of the total wine, Shiraz fills in as the second largest blending component at 22% and the rest of the blend is layers of Cabernet franc at 8%, Mourvèdre at 7%, Petite Verdot at 6%, Merlot at 4%, Barbera at 3%, and Sangiovese completing the blend at 2%.

The vineyard - Located in the crown jewel of red wine growing terroirs of the Cape Winelands - the rolling hills of the Heldberg Mountain serve as the ideal site to grow Bordeaux, Rhone, and Italian varietals. Each varietal is grown in a soil profile that best suits the varietal, giving the vine the best conditions to produce high-quality fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 37% of our vineyard, with our soil profile mainly comprised of decomposed sandstone and granite. The diversity can be seen throughout the vineyard with twelve different varietals being grown at exceptional quality.

Vintage review - The 2016 vintage represents the peak of the Cape Wineland’s drought period, with rainfall remaining approximately half of our usual norm. Additionally, higher-than-average temperatures intensified the concentration of grapes on the vines, resulting in a shorter hang time. Given these conditions, meticulous cellar techniques were employed to ensure the crafting of elegant wines, as the heat had the potential to augment the grape's structure and tannin levels.

Cellarmaster, Mark le Roux’s comments, “It's the second year of drought and the vineyards are starting to react. We had a good moderate season, constantly heating up towards harvest, with very little rain during harvest. Almost ideal ripening conditions. The wines have great aroma profiles which are very true to the cultivars and their sense of place. The heat has left us with softer acidities throughout but we still have a good sense of classic tight tannin structures, and lovely mouthfeel in the wines.”

About Waterford Estate

Waterford Estate is dedicated to producing fine wine, wine that bestows the sense of place of the Helderberg Mountain in every bottle. This ideal terroir is what allows Waterford Estate to craft the fine wine that it does, where the experienced, careful hand in the vineyard can be felt in every expertly crafted bottle of Waterford Estate wine.

As you step into their tasting room, you will be embraced by their unwavering passion for wine, South African culture, and heritage. With every guest, they endeavor to create a remarkable and unforgettable experience, sharing their deep-rooted love for all things wine and culture.

For any questions or requests for additional information contact: info@waterfordestate.co.za 

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