Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2012
Chardonnay from South Africa
#19 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2013
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.
Tasting Panel - "Always one of my favorites: bright, nervy and crisp with beautiful citrus, peach and minerals; lovely structure and notes of toasty oak and vanilla; seamless and elegant."
Wine Spectator - "Tightly wound, this exhibits a serious core of glazed pear, fig, apple, plantain and brioche notes, lined with mineral and honeysuckle hints and accented by nicely beaded acidity. This should be a beauty when it unwinds fully. Best from 2014 through 2020."
The Wine Advocate - "The nose is more reticent than its peers, but shows great class/ subtle scents of pineapple, smoke and orange zest.The palate has a lovely citric edge that is reminiscent of a fine Chassagne-Montrachet. It is imbued with wonderful poise a agradual build in the mouth toward a poised, zesty marmalade-tinged finish that lingers long in the mouth. Excellent! Drink now-2019."
International Wine Cellar - "Good full yellow. Wonderfully complex aromas of pear, wild herbs, sweet butter, smoke and tropical fruits; showed an iodiney minerality with air. Concentrated and harmonious but firm-edged, with brisk lemony acidity framing the very youthful flavors of stone fruits and minerals. Conveys a powerful impression of intensity without weight, like the best white Burgundies. Very young but smooth on the long, peach aftertaste. Outstanding potential here for a chardonnay that is often South Africa's best.
Wine & Spirits - "This grows in the shale-clay soils above Walker Bay on the coast east of Cape Point. Hannes Storm ferments most of it in barrel, with small lots in clay amphorae and stainless steel. The Francois Freres oak richness is there in the aroma, but its main role is to point up the mellow earthiness of the wine, the grassiness of its pale cream flaovrs. The wine's youth shows a hint of greenness in the finish, a note that touches on pear skin. This has the clarity and soastal freshness to sustain it in the cellar."
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Hamilton Russell Winery
Hamilton Russell Vineyards is one of the most southerly wine estates in Africa. The estate specializes in producing highly individual, terroir-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Founder, Tim Hamilton Russell purchased the undeveloped 170 hectare property in 1975. His son, Anthony, purchasing property in 1994, focused their efforts on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay only and registered Hamilton Russell Vineyards as an estate, committing to work only with grapes from their terroir. Extensive soil research initiated in 1994 identified 52 hectares of stony, clay-rich, shale-derived soil as optimal for their signature style and all plantings have now been limited to this soil type. Anthony, with winemaker Hannes Storm and viticulturist Johan Montgomery, are completely dedicated to expressing the personality of the Hamilton Russell Vineyards terroir in their wines. View all Hamilton Russell Wines
About South AfricaView a map of South Africa wineries South AfricaRelated Links:
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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.
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