John never really thought Sauvignon Blanc would enter his portfolio, least of all fermenters. Nothing against the grape, but he never found the ‘right’ site that would meld nicely with the textural ethos of his wines. He still hasn’t found that site…it found him. A phone call from good friend Chris Alheit stating he had a line on some fruit from the Skurfberg (from the site Chris gets his fruit for ‘Magnetic North’ and Eben Sadie’s ‘Skurfberg’). Without wasting any time John said ‘yes’ and hopped in the truck headed north on the 11-hour roundtrip to the remote reaches of the Skurfberg/Citrusdal Mountains. When John arrived, he was surprised but equally excited, that it was Sauvignon Blanc on the vines for him. ‘Snakes and Ladders’ name takes its inspiration from the wild nature of these bushvine vineyards high up in the mountains, along with the highs and lows of farming these incredible parcels in such a challenging climate.
John stuck to his winemaking basics focusing on texture rather than fruit. The grapes were hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed without any additions. The juice is then fermented very dirty in a mixture of 225 and 600L old French barrels. The wine remained on the gross lees throughout all of maturation and malolactic fermentation. A dose of sulfur in the winter and then again at bottling and that is the only small addition. After 10 lovely months the wine is racked to tank and bottled without fining or filtration.