Last week I asked the question on Facebook and Twitter as to your best SA white and red wine of the year. Over 40 people voted before I posted the results on Monday. No sooner had I done so than Therese de Beer, winemaker and budding social media whizz for Stellenbosch property Bartinney forwarded the link to her 147 Twitter followers and 157 Facebook friends asking them to vote for her Chardonnay 2009.
My blog consequently enjoyed the second most views per day ever, the most having been on the occasion that the list of wines rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2011 went live and as things stand now, there are no less than 24 votes for Bartinney Chardonnay under the comments section of the original post (see here).
Did De Beer “hijack” my blog? Of course she did. Should I be concerned? One observer was moved to comment “Ah, the manipulative power of social media! I wonder if people reading this will respond positively or negatively to the brand involved after this ’sting’?” I, on the other hand, admired De Beer for her quick thinking and was also impressed by the loyalty that Bartinney as a relatively young brand (first bottling dating from 1999 but under new ownership since 2006 and effectively relaunched in the last year or so) is evidently attracting.
Most of all, I thought I needed to get a proper fix on the Chardonnay 2009, and calling De Beer’s bluff, promised I would review the wine if she could get me a bottle within 24 hours. Two bottles (lest the first be corked) were delivered in person at 15h30 yesterday afternoon.
According to De Beer, the Chardonnay comes from a 2.8ha block on Bartinney that is virus-free despite being some 20 years old. The wine spent 10 months in French oak, 30% new, and 35% each in second- and third-fill. Only 30% went through malo-lactic fermentation. “It’s the most balanced wine I’ve ever made. It’s not flabby – you can even have it without food,” she says, her previous work experience including stints at Groot Constantia before Doolhof in Wellington.
So how does it stack up? Drinking it last night, I thought it was certainly above average. There’s a lot of secondary character (nuttiness, butter) on nose and palate but also lemon flavour and tangy acidity. It’s rich and full and not at all effete as some examples of Chardonnay have become as their winemakers try to make something that will appeal to Sauvignon Blanc drinkers. As for the price, no complaints there either, the wine costing R95 a bottle from the farm which I think is entirely fair for a serious-minded example of Chardonnay.
Despite all this, I still feel it’s a bit of stretch to include it among the best SA whites of 2010 which just goes to show you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet.