A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

supper theatre
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #135 (article first published : 2005-08-1)

Some years ago chardonnay became so popular in South Africa that world-weary cynics, when offered a drink, would sigh and say ABC: anything but chardonnay.

They wouldn’t have said that about the wines offered by Alf Sudheim, secretary of the Durban Country Club, when our tasting group met recently at his home. He presented eight chardonnays with a difference, all of them premium wines ranging in age from two years to eleven.

Chardonnay is the great white wine grape of Burgundy, whence it has spread to many parts of the wine-growing world, including California, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The cultivar was first planted in our country on a significant scale about 20 years ago and today it occupies 6 percent of the total area of the Cape vineyards. There are about 450 different Cape chardonnays on the market today, most of them matured in oak barrels and about a hundred that are not wooded.

Obviously the range of style, taste, bouquet and price is vast. Alf Sudheim gave us seven exceptionally fine examples of Cape chardonnays, plus a chardonnay from Beaune in Burgundy. The tasting was blind and the scores awarded by the tasters were high.

Top marks went to one of the Cape’s classic white wines, the Paul Cluver Chardonnay from Elgin, in this case the 2002 vintage. This was a beautiful dry, lime-flavoured, elegant wine. I am no expert on French wines, but I think that many wine enthusiasts could mistakenly take this for a good chablis from Burgundy.

Second place went to the 2003 chardonnay from the Waterford estate at Stellenbosch. Waterford estate, established seven years ago, is still relatively little known, but its winemaker, Kevin Arnold, is very well known indeed and is one of the veterans of the Cape wine industry. This chardonnay is quite pale in colour, dry, with toast and honey flavours. Excellent.

The Hamilton Russell 2000 Chardonnay from a celebrated cellar near Hermanus had a wonderful bouquet but was quite restrained on the palate, elegant and subtle. The 2004 vintage of this wine costs about R158 a bottle, which must make it one of the most expensive of all South African white wines.

Another good scorer - there were very small differences in the marks awarded - was the Hartenberg Chardonnay 2003 from Stellenbosch. John Platter’s Wine Guide says that this wine has a silky voluptuous body, a description that could aptly be applied to some members of our tasting group. Lime flavours again, plus peach and spicy wood tones; the wine was matured for eight months in French oak barrels.

Two of the Cape’s most distinguished cellars, Vergelegen, near Somerset West, and Klein Constantia, were represented by their 2003 chardonnays, subtly different from each other and both top class.

The tasting list was completed with two older wines: a 1995 Beaune from Burgundy, dry, delicate, almost austere, and the 1994 Nederburg D270, a Nederburg Auction wine, after eleven years still full and rich with an interesting and unusual mineral character.

As with most good things, you have to pay for wines of this quality. The prices of the current vintages of most of them are R50 to R70 a bottle. – Michael Green




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart