“People ask me why Klein Constantia stopped making Chardonnay and I don’t know,” says managing director Hans Astrom. “We have some planted which currently gets used for bubbly – within three to five years, we could have a couple of blocks to match the best in the country.”
By way of setting course, a blind tasting of 12 of the best in South Africa plus a ringer from Burgundy. Intersting comments from Burgundy expert Remington Norman who was in attendance: “Too many phenolic wines. It appears as if winemakers are using skin contact to compensate for a lack of inherent character. Also too much batonage. Great Chardonnay depends on fruit concentration and producers need to bite the bullet and go for lower yields.”
My top five on the day were as follows:
Great intensity, driving acidity. Pure and focused with very well managed oak.
Paul Cluver 2011
Very expressive with notes of lime, lemon and burnt matchstick. Rich and full but balanced. Layers of flavour.
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2012
Very pretty citrus blossom nose. Good fruit concentration, well managed oak and bright acidity.
Hamilton Russell Vineyards 2012
Lime and lemon, some oatmeal. Quite forceful with plenty of concentration and driving acidity.
Jordan Nine Yards 2012
Relatively understated for this cuvee – lemon and lime fruit, bright acidity, pithy finish.
Other wines in the line-up included: Buitenverwachting 2012, Cape Point Vineyards 2012, Chamonix Reserve 2012, Crystallum The Agnes 2012, De Wetshof The Site 2011, Kershaw Clonal Selection Elgin 2012 and Uva Mira Single Vineyards 2012. The ringer was Etienne Sauzet Bourgogne La Tefera 2009.