The high-flying Bouchard Finlayson winery was established in 1989
as s a joint venture between Paul Bouchard of Burgundy and South
African winemaker Peter Finlayson (who made his reputation working as
winemaker for neighbours Hamilton Russell, and who was presenting
these wines). Walker Bay is a cooler region of South Africa, south of
Cape Town, and has proved to be particularly suitable for growing that
most enigmatic of grapes, Pinot Noir. Verdict? I liked these wines,
without being completely bowled over by them. And while Bouchard
Finlayson has established a deservedly good reputation, my impression
is that they are still a little in the shadow of Hamilton Russell. One
point to note: Bouchard Finlayson also produce a premium single
vineyard Chardonnay, Missionvale, which they were not showing, even
though it is their flagship white. Peter Finlayson explained that this
is because they were sold out. This nicely illustrates the difference
between the South African domestic market (which clamours for these
wines), and the tougher UK marketplace, where wines that sell out
immediately in South Africa stick around on UK retailers' shelves.
You'll find the Missionvale still available in Waitrose supermarkets.
The other flagship wine not shown here was the Galpin Peak Tête de
Cuvée Pinot Noir.
Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 1999
A medium cherry red colour, the nose shows sweet herbal notes with
some pungent medicinal character present also. The savoury, slightly
spicy palate has some herby notes, savoury oak and sweet fruit. It's
quite a full wine that you'd never mistake for Burgundy, but I wasn't
totally moved by it. Very good
Kaaimansgat Chardonnay 1999
Ripe nose of rich toasty oak and fresh baked bread. Bone dry palate is
nutty and savoury. Quite oaky, but the oak is well integrated, and
it's a tasty effort. Very good+
Chardonnay Sans Barrique 2000
That's unwooded to you and me. It's a light, savoury, unoaked style of
Chardonnay with some lemony fruit. Very crisp, and served a little too
cold for proper assessment.
Sauvignon Blanc 2000
Crisp clean white with some grassiness and a touch of herbaceousness.
Good food wine but a touch 'green'. Good/very good
Blanc de Mer 2000
Crisp, fresh, modern white. Light and fruity. Good+
Tasted May 2001 at the Decanter
Rising Stars Fine Wine Encounter