White, Ready, but will improve

2016 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley

2016 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley

White | Ready, but will improve | Hamilton Russell Vineyards | Code:  44493 | 2016 | South Africa > Walker Bay | Chardonnay | Medium-Full Bodied, Dry | 13.0 % alcohol


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Scores and Reviews









WA - The 2016 Chardonnay underwent less malolactic than other vintages to preserve the acidity, around 40%, and the wine matured in 38% new oak for nine to ten months. Yields were very low at around 20 hectoliters per hectare. It is much less rich than the 2015, yet it displays finer delineation and perhaps more mineralit. The palate is very well balanced with superb tension, brimming full of energy and fanning out with nutmeg and smoked walnut notes towards the somewhat feisty finish.
Neal Martin - 28/04/2017

WS - This has a lush edge, with creamed yellow apple, quince and white peach flavors forming the core while buried quinine and verbena notes add detail and length. Gently toasted, showing a whiff of hazelnut throughout. Beautifully rendered Chardonnay. Drink now through 2022. 1,200 cases imported.
James Molesworth - Wine Spectator

SUCKLING - This is a chardonnay that bridges the gap between Old and New World. Wonderfully (but not overly) ripe stone fruit meets with green apples, yellow plums and satsumas. On the palate it's delicious and so refined. Full-bodied but fresh and succulent. Drink now.
James Suckling - Aug-2017

TIM_ATKIN - Emul Ross used less malolactic in 2012 because of the lower levels of natural acidity, but otherwise this wine follows a very succesful template. Floral, green olive aromas segue into a rich, textured, honeyed palate with well handled spicy oak and a plush, yet focused finish. A wine that deserves its lofty reputation.
Tim Atkin - September 2017

The Producer

Hamilton Russell Vineyards

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.

The Grape



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.

The Region

Walker Bay

Walker Bay

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 built its reputation on Pinot Noir, and best exemplified by the wines from the Bouchard-Finlayson & Hamilton-Russell estates.

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

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