Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2007
Pinot Noir from South Africa
#52 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2009
A particularly good winter chill ensured more even bud-break than usual and apart from a couple of strong winds in November, wind speeds were lower than average and conditions at flowering excellent. Humidity was higher than usual in January requiring vigilance to ward off disease. While January was warmer than average – contributing to a harvest one week earlier than normal, February and March were cooler than usual. Overall 2007 was a cool year versus our long-term average. Ripening was particularly even and fruit quality excellent.
Not just a Pinot noir, but a classic, origin expressive wine, Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot noir is different to most New World Pinot noirs. Our low-vigour, stony, clay-rich soil, cool maritime mesoclimate, naturally tiny yields of around 35 hl/ha and our philosophy of expressing our terroir in our wines – give rise to a certain tightness, tannin line and elevated length to balance the richness and generosity of our Pinot noir. Our Pinot noir is not overtly fruity, soft and "sweet" and it generally shows hints of that alluring "primal" character along with a dark, spicy, complex fruit perfume. For this reason, many knowledgeable enthusiasts around the world regard Hamilton Russell Vineyards as the best "Pinot noir" in South Africa and one of the best in the New World.
Wine Spectator - " Bold, aromatic and ripe, but imminently elegant, with racy acidity providing the ground wire for the rich black cherry, bramble, incense and sweet earth notes. Long, multi-faceted finish, the HR Pinot is quietly getting better and better. Drink now through 2013."
International Wine Cellar - "Moderately saturated medium red. Complex, highly aromatic nose combines vibrant red berries, incense, cherry, flowers, spices, and a note of eucalyptus. Juicy and very intense but magically light on its feet; the pungent red berry and pepper flavors spread out to coat the palate without any impression of weight . This soil-driven wine is extremely young and should put on weight with four or five years of cellaring. Very distinctive and stylish pinot with fine-grained tannins and terrific finishing energy and perfume. "
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 & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.
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