2017 Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa £23.95, Hennings Wine, 01798-872485, HenningsWine.co.uk; £24.50, Hailsham Cellars, 01323-441941, HailshamCellars.com
The entire portfolio of 2017 vintage Hamilton Russell wines is amazing. My featured chardonnay and the estate pinot noir shimmer with vibrancy and energy. The 2017 Ashbourne sauvignon blanc/chardonnay is a tangy, saline-tinged, summery glugger, and even the plummy, grippy, spicy 2017 Southern Right Pinotage and its raspy, nettle-soaked sauvignon sibling look fit and tidy.
The flagship is a triumph
But the star is the flagship chardonnay and, at only 13.16% alcohol, it is a triumph. Grown in one of the most southerly wine estates in South Africa, just behind the old fishing village of Hermanus, southeast of Cape Town, the vineyards, which overlook the ocean, are blessed with a favourable maritime climate. Ninety per cent of this wine has been barrel fermented and aged for nine months in French oak barriques of varying ages and a variety of toast levels. The remaining 10% is aged in large foudre, stainless steel and ceramic eggs.
This complex cocktail of maturation vessels and accompanying flavour influences layers complexity into this mono-varietal wine. The results are delicate and impossibly elegant. It is pure, pale, innocent and yet firmly structured on the palate and incredibly long. It has every element of chardonnay that I admire and it does it with Zen-like calm. I think that you will like this wine very much indeed.
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).