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Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, South Africa

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We first became interested in this wine when we read the review in Wine Searcher. We just tasted this great South African Chardonnay. How can we describe this extraordinary wine. It's French but it's not. Try it.

93 points Wine Spectator: "[$33 list] Gorgeous, with Jonagold apple and white peach fruit at the core, flanked by mirabelle plum, honeysuckle and heather notes. The long finish ripples with minerality as the fruit drapes beautifully. Should cellar well. Drink now through 2019. 1,750 cases imported. (11/30/14)" 

Producer notes: "A tight, minerally wine with classic Hamilton Russell Vineyards length and complexity. Unusually prominent pear and lime fruit aromas and flavours are brought beautifully into focus by a tight line of bright natural acid and a long, dry minerality. An elegant, yet textured and intense wine with a strong personality of both place and vintage. 86% barrel fermentation; 14% stainless steel. Barrel aged 8 months in French oak (31% new)."


Tasting Notes from Hamilton Russell:
A tight, minerally wine with classic Hamilton Russell Vineyards length and complexity. Unusually prominent pear and lime fruit aromas and flavours are brought beautifully into focus by a tight line of bright natural acid and a long, dry minerality. An elegant, yet textured and intense wine with a strong personality of both place and vintage.

Blend Information
100% Chardonnay

In The Vineyard
Soil Low-vigour, stony, clay-rich, shale-derived soil

2013 was a standout vintage with rich, generous, sumptuous wines displaying great depth of fruit and structure. The reds in particular benefited from the 2013 harvest conditions, with dark, complex fruit at moderate alcohol levels. A cold winter was followed by a cold wet spring almost up to flowering, while cool strong Southeasters with some rain during flowering and berry-set contributed to very low yields. In general bud-break was later than usual and for the first time Sauvignon blanc ripened before Pinot noir and Chardonnay. A drier, breezy December and January contributed to healthy disease free ripening. The average of the maximum temperatures for December, January, February and March was, at 25.33 Centigrade, a touch higher than our long-term average of 25 Centigrade – warmer than 2012, 2010 and 2009, but cooler than 2011.

About The Harvest
The reds in particular benefited from the 2013 harvest conditions, with dark, complex fruit at moderate alcohol levels. Overall a later harvest and a harvest characterized by
smooth logistics and excellent team work between cellar and vineyard.

In The Cellar
Barrel Fermentation 86% 
Stainless Steel 14% 
Barrel Ageing 8 months 
1st fill 31% 2nd fill 39% 3rd fill 60%
Wooding 86% 228 litre French Oak Barrels 
Medium Toast 72% Blonde Toast 22% Medium Light Toast 6% 
French Coopers: Francois Freres 89%, Mercurey 8%, Billon 2%, Chassin 1%
 

From Wine Searcher: Hamilton Russell Chardonnay is One of 10 Best Under $45.

2012 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay, South Africa

From one of South Africa's coolest vineyards, on clay-rich soils on the cliffs of Hermanus overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Tim Hamilton Russell was the pioneer of both Walker Bay and the then-rare-in-South Africa Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, first planting in the mid-1970s. Today run by son Anthony, the Chardonnay has enjoyed consistent success over the years. From a good vintage, the 2012 was rated by three critics very highly, and the even better 2013 vintage has scored an equally high 93 points from the Wine Spectator. It is one of South Africa's more expensive Chardonnays.

Laboro Disubbidiente
Savary Chablis 2013