Fridays are always good. But last night was extraordinary. The amount of old white wines tasted on a casual evening superseded any other tasting I remember. First up was a Hemel-en-Aarde Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay. A 1999 vintage. Beautiful! A linear, clear taste that’s undeniably Chardonnay doing Hermanus and the Walker Bay appellation proud.
The Decanter Vintage Report refers to the 1999 South African vintage as “an inauspicious start, a relatively warm winter, early budding … concentrated fruit and raised quality.” Apparently it was a smaller crop similar to what we expect this year. Decanter did include Walker Bay as one of the best performing appellations for this harvest. I would like to think this is always true but of course I am biased.
Next we went VERY old! Glasses of Stellenbosch 1983 Lievland Rhine Riesling were poured blind. You just have to poke your nose in a glass of Riesling to know what you are about to taste. Petroleum or kerosene whiffs are characteristic of this aromatic grape and the Lievland delivered in the same style. The Riesling was paired with crayfish and the acidity worked wonders with the fatty crayfish meat and the extra bit of mayo I added. Not bad for a 35 year old wine!
Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson’s sticky, L’illa, brought a bit of sweetness to the table. This Noble Late Harvest was made in Hemel-en-Aarde at the Newton Johnson cellar with grapes from Nadia’s family farm situated between Worcester and Robertson.
Then a wine from a winemaker I don’t know. Nicky Versfeld. Nicky is a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild who “put Steenberg on the map” according to a friend. He made 2 barrels of the 2013 Lanner Hill from 13 year old Semillon vines grown in the Darling region for 2014 CWG Auction.
Another golden oldie. A 1988 Lievland Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and fine wine aged well. A perfect example of how white wines can age well with extra care in the making and the keeping.
A special thanks to my hosts Nokkie and Paul Benade who invited me to share in their fine wine collection. The tasting was matched by great company and a beautiful sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.