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From vines growing on the stony, shale derived, clay rich soil of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The finished wine is a complex blend of lots that have undergone subtle differences in production: fermentation in barrel (93%,) or large vats, (7%;) malolactic fermentation (10%,) or blocked; 9 months barrel aging, with different levels of toasting, in 1st fill (27%,) 2nd fill (33%,) 3rd fill (35%,) 4th fill (5%.) The quality of the finished wine justifies the intense effort behind its production!
The Hamilton Russell report on the vintage:
2019 will go down as the year of “the fire”. A massive fire burned around Hamilton Russell vineyards on January 11th, directly damaging 10% of our Pinot noir and causing concerns over smoke taint. Careful advance measurements, and separate extremely gentle vinifications, have however enabled us to produce a fine, complex and beautiful 2019, albeit in a much negligable quantity. A great pity about the low production as the year looks to be a truly great one for Pinot noir. Fortunately the fire passed through very rapidly reducing smoke exposure. Fire was not the only challenge. An unusually warm May, June and July effected Chardonnay dormancy and as a result bud break was extremely uneven and in some cases incomplete. Our Chardonnay crop was 44% down, but the quality is excellent, with unusually slow ferments resulting in a generous texture with our typical bright minerality, stylistically somewhere between 2015 and 2018.
Overall the vintage was a cooler than 2017 and even 2018, with an average maximum temperature for Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar of 24.5 Centigrade (versus an equivalent long term average for Burgundy of 24.8 Centigrade for this period). Rainfall was lower than average for Spring and during harvest, but occurred in frequent small amounts causing sustained high humidity. Fortunately our organic treatments proved highly effective against the resulting downey and powdery mildew threat. And the day after harvest finished, the serious rains began – some luck at least! We had the highest March rainfall in 21 years. Record low production and several challenges, but the 2019’s have a pure, refined beauty.
93 Points - Decanter
93 Andrew Howard MW, Decanter
A very fine Chardonnay produced in difficult circumstances given the fire/smoke issues in the Western Cape. Unlike the Pinot Noir, this has been produced with 100% estate fruit and is very successful. Bunches were pressed whole (rather than de-stemmed) to reduce any smoke taint risks. Very crisp on the palate with fine acidity and a touch of stoned fruit, this is concentrated, mineral and elegant. Very youthful, ideally give this another 12 months to blossom a bit more.
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