Journey into South African wine country Part 2

Continuing on the trail of our Constance sommeliers’ journey in South Africa to source some of the finest wines from the country to bring back for our guests, Jerome Faure reveals what they found on the final days of the tour.

South African wines: Jerome meets the team at La Vierge Wines

South African wines: Jerome meets the team at La Vierge Wines

Day 3

Having stayed at the Hamilton Russell vineyard in the morning we had a tasting of the Hamilton Russell range. Selected from 3 terroirs (Southern Right, Ashbourne and Hamilton Russell) the wines included the Chardonnay 10, 11, 12 Hamilton Russell and the Pinot Noir 10, 11, 12 Hamilton Russell. Amongst the white wines the 2011 stands out for its lively wine with a fresh taste and good minerals. For the reds the highlight was the 2012, an intense wine, complex with good concentration.

Staying in the Hemel-en-Aarde region next we visited Creation, where Swiss winemaker Jean Claude Martin and his wife Carolyn Martin of the Finlayson family create a wide range of wines which each nicely express the terroir.

From there we ventured to the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde valley to visit Newton Johnson, a family run business. We tried the 2012 wines from the new terroirs – Mrs M with sandy soil next to a river, Block 6 with a combination of sandy and clay soil, Windandsea with clay soil on the top of the slope. We found that the sandy soil gave the wines elegance and finesse and the clay gave roundness, structure and freshness.

Next we visited one of the Alheit Vineyards where the Cartology they produce may be the best wine in South Africa. Now in its third vintage it is a very exciting wine with complexity and freshness. At Alheit their ambition is to create the best Chenin of the Western Cape so the 2012 Radio Lazarus uses only old vines, 18 barrels from a single vineyard.

At Crystalum Wines we tasted the Pinot Noir which had body and structure but was still fine and elegant. The Chardonnay had a nice balance with finesse and complexity. Definitely a winemaker I will be following in the future.

Day 4

Staying in the breathtaking Hemel-en-Aarde Valley our last stop was to La Vierge Wines. A new winemaker joined this still very young vineyard last year and made his first vintage in 2013. Having worked for 10 years in Martinborough, his focus is very much on the terroir. During our tasting we discovered wines of elegance and finesse on top of intense fruit aromas. This is another winemaker to follow.

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