Excelsior Chardonnay 2010
Chardonnay from South Africa
This crisp, mouthwatering Chardonnay displays lively flavors of green apple, citrus, and pineapple on a full, creamy palate. Hints of orange blossom and subtle toasty notes round out this versatile and accessible everyday value.
International Wine Cellar - "Pale yellow. Citrus peel on the nose. Sweet and juicy, with ripe acidity framing the citrus and nectarine flavors. Boasts good intensity and varietal character for $10 chardonnay. Finishes with hints of pineapple and crystallized lemon peel."
The picturesque Robertson Valley is nestled between two rugged mountain ranges near the Breede ("Broad") River. It was here that the De Wet family purchased a large tract of land in 1859, subsequently channeling the river and planting the region’s first vineyards. Today the estate is owned by Freddie and Peter De Wet, the fourth and fifth generation of De Wets to farm the property.
Robertson’s limestone-rich clay soils are ideal for quality wine production, and Excelsior boasts over 200 hectares planted to noble grape varietals, with a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz. The wines consistently receive "Best Buy"/ "Best Value" accolades, and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate recently noted that Excelsior "represents another of those South African instances where one wonders how the wines can possibly be well-made, distinctively-packaged, exported to the States, and still sell for a mere ten dollars."
The De Wets have always embraced innovation, and in 1969, Excelsior became the first wine estate in South Africa to install drip irrigation. In 1981, a modern, state-of-the-art winery was constructed with capacity to allow for future expansion. In addition to producing a series of delicious and approachable value wines, Excelsior also has a long history of horse breeding. The estate’s longstanding horse breeding tradition is reflected in the equine theme on the Excelsior labels. View all Excelsior Wines
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A long history of growing grapes and making wine, but less of a history on exporting it, and even lesser on the quality aspect. At the turn of the century (1900, that is), a surplus of wine in South Africa created a hierarchy of cooperatives, the biggest and best known being KWV. This organization seemed to favor quantity over quality and had most control over wines and vineyards until the late 1980's. Now, with a bit more competition, quality is coming around. Yet, South African wine was not even seen in American wine stores until the mid-1990's – the trade embargo on the country for their racial apartheid laws kept South African wine out of the US. When apartheid fell, so did the embargo, and SA bottles began showing up on US shelves.
White wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, much of it the Steen variety – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape gaining some raves is Sauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends was once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, which used to be a grape only your mother could love, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. The most popular regions of the country include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
About South AfricaRelated Links:
Notable FactsWhite wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, the majority of it is Steen – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape the critics rave aboutSauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends were once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, a man-made crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. In describing red wines in South Africa, smoky and meaty are two terms that are common. Regionally, the most popular wine-making areas include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.