Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Hermanus, Cape of
Good Hope, South Africa Tel: +27(0) 283 23595
I'm increasingly convinced that the
wines of this estate are among the best in South Africa. Hamilton Russell Vineyards have
been making wines in the cool-climate Walker Bay region of South Africa since the early
1980s, and in that time has carved out a reputation for producing wines that straddle the
old and new worlds. Only two varieties are grown: there are 22 Ha of Pinot Noir vines, and
30 Ha of Chardonnay. This contrasts with the usual new world model of growing perhaps 10
different varieties, with no attempt to concentrate on the varieties that best suit the
terroir available. In addition, recent vineyard improvement (the old Champagne clones of
Pinot Noir have gradually been replaced with better vines) is paying off with an increase
in quality of the Pinot Noir. Sister estate Southern Right specializes in Pinotage and
Sauvignon Blanc, but these wines were not on show.
I'm a big fan of the Hamilton Russell Chardonnay. Wonderful toasty nose: complex, nutty
and full. Rich and balanced on the palate with a rich, savoury edge. Lovely stuff.
Pinot Noir 1999
Light cherry red colour. Sweet cherry nose with some herby complexity. Good balance and
complexity on the palate with some spice, fruit and tannin. Nice potential ahead of it.
see a more recent review of this producer here