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13.50% | SOUTH AFRICA

A tight, minerally wine with classic Hamilton Russell Vineyards length and complexity. Unusually prominent pear and lime fruit aromas and flavours are brought beautifully into focus by a tight line...
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A tight, minerally wine with classic Hamilton Russell Vineyards length and complexity. Unusually prominent pear and lime fruit aromas and flavours are brought beautifully into focus by a tight line of bright natural acid and a long, dry minerality. An elegant, yet textured and intense wine with a strong personality of both place and vintage.

After the early and short 2015 and 2016 harvests, 2018, like 2017 was back to our usual timing, beginning at the end of the first week of February, but (a longer harvest) finishing at the end of the first week of March.  Budding was even and successful, with higher than usual early Spring temperatures, but an unusually wet November and a cool December affected flowering and fruit-set, resulting in particularly low yields – far lower than our already low yields. The berries were smaller and the bunches were lighter, but the resulting wines were deeper, fuller and more structured.  December and January were drier than average, making for relatively easy and successful disease control organically, with February only very slightly wetter than our long term average. A warmer than average February, combined with the very low yields and small berries did however contribute to the riper more opulent style of 2018 compared to 2017.  One of the features of 2018 was fairly variable ripening within individual vineyards, and within individual bunches. Picking on taste, combined with analysis, and picking particular areas within individual vineyards at different times, was particularly important in 2018. This required a high level of vigilance and very close teamwork between cellar and vineyard, both of which were carried out with great success. 2018 was an excellent vintage for us.

94+ Points - Greg Sherwood MW

95 Points - Tim Atkin

93 Points - Dr Owen Bargreen, International Wine Report

93 Points - Christian Eedes

95 Points - Greg Sherwood MW

Chatting to Anthony before tasting the 2018, he warned there might still be a hint of reduction on this young white wine. But to be honest, I found it very fresh, pure and delightfully fragrant, though perhaps aromatically a little more restrained and mineral at the moment, showing more yellow citrus, lemon pastille and wet chalk rather than struck match reduction. There is still a very subtle juvenile lick of salted caramel and vanilla spice from the oak barrel ageing, but on the palate, this is where the real pedigree of this wine is revealed. An ultra tight, pinpoint textural finesse, plenty of core energy and a classically restrained Burgundian dry lemon and limestone finish. Wonderfully intense and focused but simultaneously a suave and supremely balanced Chardonnay from the Walker Bay. Give this wine another 6 months in bottle after release and then indulge at will. 

Rebels and pioneers, Hamilton Russell Vineyards were the first to grow vines in the cool, maritime region of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Tim Hamilton Russell planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on previously uncultivated land in 1976, both rare varieties for South Africa at the time. The site he chose behind the old fishing village of Hermanus allows for unusually classically styled wines, which have garnered the reputation as some of the finest in South Africa and the New World, to be produced near the tip of the African continent.

1994 saw Anthony Hamilton Russell take ownership of the Estate, and extensive soil research was initiated which identified 52 hectares of stony, clay-rich, shale soils as optimal for the individual, expressive style of wine desired. Today, the Estate has 20 parcels of Chardonnay vines, all vinified separately, before blending for consistency of aesthetic, but with the character of the vintage also present. The Pinot Noir plots give Burgundian subtlety, texture and length, which is down to the identification of the shale/gravel soils on which the vines now grow.

Amongst the vines, biodynamic practices are beginning to prevail; nitrogen fixing lupins and earthworm tea are used to restore vital microbes to the soil, with biodiversity islands being used to bring beneficial plants to the area. In the winery, Anthony and winemaker Emul Ross seek to make wines which demand something from the drinker, as fine literature does from the reader.

Serve with poultry terrines and simple seafood such as roast seabass and crayfish tails with lemon and coriander. Ready to drink now but will improve with age.

Key Facts

Size
75cl
Grapes
Chardonnay
Country
South Africa
Region
Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Vintage
2015/18
ABV %
13.50%
Organic
Unknown
Vegan
Unknown

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