My idea of a great time is sipping slowly on a Riedel montrachet glass filled with chilled velvety pale gold Chardonnay. A full mouthfeel that whispers sweet little nothings to my palate long after the liquid has disappeared. This is exactly what I did at the Hemel-en-Aarde Classic Chardonnay Celebration. After three Pinot Noir Celebrations today was the first Chardonnay version. Pinot Noir is the top performer, the varietal in the Hemel-en-Aarde stable with the established record of excellence. Yet Chardonnay does well too and should demand more attention said Anthony Hamilton Russell. Attention is what the three appellations’ Chardonnays received. Twelve wines all from the 2015 vintage were tasted during a sit-down tutored presentation at The Thatch House outside Hermanus. Winnie Bowman, Cape Wine Master and Platter Guide panel member for the Chardonnay category, facilitated the tasting. The formal discussions were followed by lunch with more and also older vintages of Chardonnay.
Many glasses reached out anxiously when Gordon Newton Johnson stepped forward with a jeroboam of Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2012. Four and a half liters of magic. Gordy mentioned that between him and his winemaker wife Nadia they look for crystal clear clarity in Chardonnay. Newton Johnson only uses two cooperages and when putting in their annual order of barrels they note their requirements in wine terms. The result in the glass is a “polished and luscious front palate that grips and lengthens long into the finish”.
JC Martin of Creation referenced Chardonnay making in South Africa to that of his time spent in his home country – Switzerland. He explained that in South Africa he has the privilege to let the fruit hang longer and does not have to “fight the weather conditions”. JC added that nature can prove you wrong and thus he tries not to interfere too much.
Craig Wessels of Restless River paid tribute to the assistance of Ataraxia winemaker Kevin Grant. “Kevin has taught me a lot and also that which I think I know. He does not get too upset when I break away from his teachings. Kevin is all about acid structure”. Craig then also does not watch sugar as much as he watches acid when deciding to pick. Although currently traveling Kevin was mentioned for renaming ABC from Anything But Chardonnay to Absolutely Brilliant Chardonnay at the recent De Wetshof Celebration of Chardonnay. Kevin’s acronym also sums up the day. An absolutely brilliant day of Hemel-en-Aarde Chardonnay. Here follows a few of the photos of the #ClassicChardonnayCelebration day.