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2013 Glenelly Estate Grand Vin Chardonnay, Stellenbosch
The Glenelly Estate is located in the Idas Valley in Stellenbosch wine region on the southern slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain. Its origins date back to the seventeenth century, in which Simon van der Stel, then Governor of the Cape, gave the land to a Huguenot, François Villion.
In 1812, the estate passed on again to Johan Peter de Villiers, and finally in 1911 it became the property of a British Family, the Garlicks. They owned it for 92 years until its purchase in 2003 by May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, who for over 30 years was also the owner of the famous Pauillac Grand Cru Classé estate, Château Pichon-Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande in Bordeaux.
It was only with Mme de Lencquesaing’s arrival that grapes were planted at the estate in 2003. All the red Bordeaux varieties are now here, along with a small amount of Syrah that does exceptionally well there. Winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain’s CV is impressive, having worked at Ch. Fieuzal, Screaming Eagle and Ch. Angélus and then at Rustenberg for five years before joining Glenelly. He is assisted by Swartland maverick and ex-Rustenberg winemaker, Adi Badenhorst, who consults for the estate.
Mme de Lencquesaing is still very much involved in the running of the property, which seeks to combine an Old World elegance with South African flair. The French lineage of the wines is apparent upon tasting them; these are very fine indeed.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
Stellenbosch is South Africa’s best-known wine region, producing a wide variety of wines from leading estates, even though it accounts for less than 20 per cent of the country’s total production. Designated wards within the wine region are Jonkershoek Valley, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Bottelary, Devon Valley and Papegaaiberg.
At 17,500 hectares, Stellenbosch remains the Cape's most famous and important fine wine district, thanks to its proximity to Cape Town, to the cooling influences of False Bay, its mountainous (ie Helderberg, Simonsberg), granitic topography and its centres of learning such as Elsenburg Agricultural College.