Platter Wine Guide, wineonaplatter.com, Oct 2015
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.
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.