Yesterday a tasting of soon-to-be released wines from Stellenbosch winery Warwick. The Chardonnay 2009 is looking particularly good, with a rich core of fruit but also some interesting secondary flavours. Grapes come predominantly from a vineyard planted in the mid-1980s and yeilds are low, typically between two and half and three tons a hectare. only partial malolactic fermentation was allowed and the wine spent 10 months in barrel, a third new, a third second-fill and the rest third-fill. It’s not completely pure and correct and perhaps will offend those of more delicate sensibilities but I liked it very much. Total production was 1 250 cases and it costs R135 a bottle from the tasting room.
Post tasting, Warwick managing director Mike Ratcliffe was in expansive mood allowing guests to select older wines from his personal stash to enjoy with lunch. This proved a great opportunity to examine the property’s Chardonnay in more detail.
Maiden vintage 1991 appeared very tertiary with notes of honey and nuts, not for the uninitiated but hardly undrinkable if you like old wine.
The 1999, which famously was judged best in class in the Tri Nations competition (against Australia and New Zealand) of the same year, showed a lot of reductive bottle stink on the nose but was still remarkably fresh on the palate.
However, it was the 1998 that really wowed: luminous yellow-green in colour, it showed citrus and just a hint of honey on the nose, while the palate was rich, broad and intensely flavoured with a good line of acidity lending balance. Warwick is positioned very much as a premium red wine producer, but this classy white should not be overlooked.