Although chardonnay will never be eclipsed by other white varietals, I confess to having focussed more on chenin recently as there has been so much happening on the local chenin front. So it's great to return to contemplating our distinctive chardonnays again in the light of their International Day being celebrated on Thursday, May 24.
Coming as it does in May, the timing is perfect for those of us in the southern hemisphere as cooler weather is more conducive to enjoying the richer, wooded chards, and pairing them with delicious autumn fare.
That said, I have long championed well-made unwooded chardonnay that can fill the bill as aperitif, and as delightful companion to al fresco fare, both casual and more formal. They also often offer great value for money.
So its not surprising that my thoughts turn to the Glenelly Glass Collection chardonnay, an unoaked wine in the top tier, yet priced at under R100. I have sampled several vintages since 2013 and they seem to get better with passing time: Not having tasted the just-released 2018 I cannot comment, but it’s likely to join its predecessors in offering not only a charming partner for Gallic autumn classics, but a wine to sip and savour on its own. Cellarmaster Luke O’Cuinneagain excels with every vintage, focussing combining both purity and classic fruit and, by leaving the wine for several months on lees, it acquires some weight as well.
Turning now, to the Darling Hills where chardonnays from Groote Post are wines that I have always enjoyed, and wonder if they are not perhaps overshadowed by their sauvignon blanc.. The unwooded chardonnay from the Varietal range presents a fine balance between friskiness and stone fruit, with some depth and quite a long finish.Since 2013 this companionable wine has complemented a wide choice of light and informal fare. The 2018 vintage, which I haven’t yet sampled, is likely to be in similar vein and sells for about R97.
The Groote Post Kapokberg chardonnay 2017 is now on sale, priced at around R160 and hasn’t reached me yet. Looking forward to this wine, produced from fruit from vineyards high in the Darling Hills, that are harvested late when fully ripe. Matured in 300 litre French oak for 10 months, it’s likely to be similar to previous vintages, elegant and full-bodied in style, presenting the expected classic characteristics – nuttiness with marmalade, and buttery creaminess on the palate, as in the past. Expect to pay about R160.
Say chardonnay and two more cellars come to mind: Rustenberg for its Five Soldiers that I last tasted at a DeWetshof Celebration of Chardonnay, but cannot remember which vintage and the current vintage of Hartenberg’s The Eleanor, elegance personified if such a phrase is acceptable vinous-wise.
Cheers to chardonnay from the Cape!