2015 Capensis Chardonnay Western Cape
Winery Notes: The winemaking team gently guides the wine through fermentation and barrel aging. Immediately after hand harvesting, whole clusters are pressed in an enclosed membrane press. After the juice is allowed to settle for 24 to 36 hours, it is inoculated with selected yeast strains and fermented in small French oak barrels or at 65°F in stainless steel tanks. For the 2015 vintage, 50 percent was fermented in new French oak, with the balance in neutral oak. All the wine is aged on the lees and is hand-stirred monthly throughout 10 months of aging to soften the texture. Winemaker Graham Weerts is a fervent believer that lees incorporation is a key component to creating Chardonnay with integrity and with the ability to age. The percentage of Capensis Chardonnay that completes malolactic fermentation depends on the vintage and vineyard characteristics, with the average being 30 to 50 percent for the finished wine. Partial malolactic fermentation adds complexity and rounds some acids. However, these vineyards have such ripe acidity — without tart, green apple character — that the wines are naturally balanced regardless of the level. Gentle fining is used for most lots.
Chardonnay Winemaker Dinner Notes:
I insisted we include this outlier in the lineup, and it proved to be one of the most distinctive and favorite wines of the night. Sort of like switched-on Grand Cru Chablis, there was a definite floral note (my wife called it ‘lantana’) and a lot of Burgundy-like mineral. Exotic, textural and really fun to drink, this is world class stuff. Those who might compare this with Hamilton Russell’s wonderful Chard will miss HR’s pineapple fruit notes. As I say, this was more French than South African. In every good way! And with the delicious zuppa of potatoes and favas, it was amazing.