A thriller from South Africa

The 2014 and 2015 Restless River are sensational vintages, says Matthew Jukes. But this 2013 is a show-stopper.


2013 Restless River, Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa (£35, reduced to £174 for six bottles, £29 each, if you mention MoneyWeek, Swig.co.uk, 08000-272272).

I love the annual Wines of South Africa trade tasting, this year subtitled "Intrepid"! It's always a mix of well-known, reliable brands and completely off-the-wall, wine-obsessed crazies, making genius, small-production elixirs.

I made a beeline for the Swig table because this is home to Adi Badenhorst's insane brews, Keermont's celestial creations, which featured on this page last year, Duncan Savage's contemplative wines, a certifiably insane new range called BLANKbottle (check out the website), where every wine had its own unhinged story, and my favourite wine of the whole day, Restless River's Chardonnay.

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Every one of these estates' wines were on fire and you should buy every bottle you can, but among the hectic and the mystifying, the wondrous and the noble emerged a flight of three chardonnays which stopped me in my tracks.

The 2014 and 2015 are sensational, too, but this 2013 is a thriller. Winemaker Craig Wessels admits he is obsessive about every aspect of winemaking and this was evident in the subtlety, depth and grandeur of this wine. Only a few barrels were made and if you have ever wondered whether the Cape would ever make Grand Cru chardonnay, the answer is in this bottle.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website, www.matthewjukes.com.

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.