Neal Martin - 31/10/2014
Enjoying an enviable, enduring international reputation for quality, HRV’s recent accolades include SA’s first appearance in the top 20 of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the Year (with the '12 Chardonnay). Steps being taken to retain the lofty status include an extensive overhaul of fermentation facilities – on owner Anthony Hamilton Russell’s to-do list for the past 24 years! – and green lighting the progressive adoption of biodynamic farming practices. In the vineyards an ‘estate’ pinot noir clone is under trial, courtesy of an unusual mutation in one of the oldest blocks on the property. The first crop in 2016 is eagerly awaited.
4/5 stars, Platter Wine Guide , wineonaplatter.com, Nov 2014
About this WINE
Hamilton Russell Vineyards
For the last decade and a half, Hamilton Russell’s immensely successful Burgundian-style wines have set the standard of quality and sophistication for South African wine. The estate is located only three kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean and the sea breezes make this one of the coolest regions for wine production in South Africa. Hamilton Russell wines are only made from the Burgundian varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, grown on stony, clay-rich shale slopes.
The property is overseen by the charming Anthony Hamilton Russell who ensures that the outstanding wines produced here are restrained yet complex and, most fundamentally, expressions of their own terroirs. Two thousand and thirteen was the last vintage of winemaker Hannes Storm after a decade at the estate; he has since moved on to set up his own project, and was succeeded by Emul Ross, ex-Assistant Winemaker at another Chardonnay and Pinot Noir specialist, Cape Chamonix.
The Wine Advocate raves, in great vintages, their Pinot Noir can be utterly sublime and age as well as any great Burgundy.
Walker Bay is a coastal wine district, located to the south-east of Capetown, near the town of Hermanus (of whale-watching fame).
Walker Bay has a cool, maritime climate. However vineyard virus and small scale production have prevented thsi wine region from competing effectively against the Pinot Noirs from New Zealand.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.