“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.” Andrew Howard MW, Decanter
Hamilton Russell Vineyards is one of the most southerly wine Estates in Africa and one of the closest to the sea, they pioneered viticulture and winemaking in the beautiful, cool, maritime Hemel-en-Aarde Valley appellation, situated on the coast, behind the old fishing village of Hermanus. The Estate specialises in producing highly individual, terroir-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Grown on low-vigour, stony, clay-rich soil with naturally tiny yields, this Pinot Noir is not overtly fruity, it shows hints of the more alluring savoury “primal” character along with a dark, spicy, complex primary fruit perfume. 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.
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.
2019 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay should be served 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.