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A tight, mineral wine with classic Hamilton Russell Vineyards length and complexity. 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.
2019 will go down as the year of “the fire”. A massive fire burned around Hamilton Russell vineyards on January 11th, directly damaging 10% of our Pinot noir and causing concerns over smoke taint. Careful advance measurements, and separate extremely gentle vinifications, have however enabled us to produce a fine, complex and beautiful 2019, albeit in a much negligable quantity. A great pity about the low production as the year looks to be a truly great one for Pinot noir. Fortunately the fire passed through very rapidly reducing smoke exposure. Fire was not the only challenge. An unusually warm May, June and July effected Chardonnay dormancy and as a result bud break was extremely uneven and in some cases incomplete. Our Chardonnay crop was 44% down, but the quality is excellent, with unusually slow ferments resulting in a generous texture with our typical bright minerality, stylistically somewhere between 2015 and 2018.
Overall the vintage was a cooler than 2017 and even 2018, with an average maximum temperature for Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar of 24.5 Centigrade (versus an equivalent long term average for Burgundy of 24.8 Centigrade for this period). Rainfall was lower than average for Spring and during harvest, but occurred in frequent small amounts causing sustained high humidity. Fortunately our organic treatments proved highly effective against the resulting downey and powdery mildew threat. And the day after harvest finished, the serious rains began – some luck at least! We had the highest March rainfall in 21 years. Record low production and several challenges, but the 2019’s have a pure, refined beauty.
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.
"A very fine Chardonnay produced in difficult circumstances given the fire/smoke issues in the Western Cape. Unlike the Pinot Noir, this has been produced with 100% estate fruit and is very successful. Bunches were pressed whole (rather than de-stemmed) to reduce any smoke taint risks. Very crisp on the palate with fine acidity and a touch of stoned fruit, this is concentrated, mineral and elegant. Very youthful, ideally give this another 12 months to blossom a bit more."
93 Points, Andrew Howard MW, Decanter
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