Today Hemel-en-Aarde is well-known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But it is the area’s Pinot Noir that stands out when it comes to awards and recognition. What other South African winegrowing region can lay claim to dominating a category such as Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir? Considering Platter listings and trade reviews confirm that the vineyards bordering Hermanus always come out tops. South Africa’s Burgundy. That’s what Hemel-en-Aarde is often called.
There is one producer that can be singled out for pioneering the region’s Pinot Noir magic. Hamilton Russell Vineyards. Founded in 1975 Tim Hamilton Russell purchased 170 hectares of undeveloped Hemel-en-Aarde Valley farmland after an extensive search for suitable terroir to grow noble varieties. Fast forward and there is nothing undeveloped about the property or the brand. A classic, well established wine enterprise with a quality product that is enjoyed globally thanks to the dedication of Tim’s son and owner since 1991, Anthony Hamilton Russell.
I stopped at the tasting room this morning and was again in awe of the wine and the business. Focussing my eyes on the Hemel-en-Aarde landscape I took small sips of precious Pinot and thought that life is really good here.