Yesterday Hamilton Russell Vineyards hosted a function “celebrating 33 vintages of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay”. Those expecting a formal tasting of some older wines would’ve been disappointed – the number of guests was rumoured to be around 200 and with unseasonal rain falling, a garden party soon became a crowded indoor affair. The 2005 through 2013 vintages of the property’s Pinot Noir were available but it was impossible to do the wines justice.
Still, a nicely louche air pervaded – men in open-necked shirts, skinny jeans and loafers, women in very short skirts and very high heels, all with impressive manes of hair; to eat, crayfish tails washed down with your choice of Chardonnay 2014 and Pinot Noir 2013.
While the property’s Chardonnay is for me one of South Africa’s greatest wines, owner Anthony Hamilton Russell always seems more proud of his Pinot. The 2013 has been reviewed before on this site (see here) but yesterday I detected a peculiar “green” quality on it (interestingly, Angela Lloyd noted a “minty” note when reviewing it for the current edition of Platter’s). Apparently very little whole bunch ferment used so were this comes from, who’s to say.
It’s a decent enough drop but the general insight that dawned on me yesterday about Pinot Noir relative to Chardonnay under local conditions is that the former always seems if it doesn’t really want to be grown here whereas the latter definitely does…