Sometimes you want to go big, or go home. And if you’re going to do that in terms of South African white wine, you probably should go with Chardonnay. Despite all the amazing Chenins we make in this country, Chardonnay still makes some of our finest wines, capable of ageing for aeons and offering a variety of flavours and tastes. Here are a few superstars, well-worth the extra money.
1. Eikendal Chardonnay 2015 (R155)
The least-expensive of this line-up and offering some of the absolute best-value Chardonnay you can find in this country. Very precise, very balanced with depth, complexity and poise, this is Nico Grobler’s finest to date. And I christened it at the Weintaufe Harvest festival 2 years ago too – all the more reason to love this ‘Teacher’s Pet’ Chardonnay just that little bit more!
2. Holden Manz Chardonnay 2015 (R195)
Some very good Chardonnays coming out of the Franschhoek Valley at the moment and this is one of them. Not so sure about the packaging which is striking to say the least, but there’s nothing to fault on the wine at all – perfectly balanced, rich but still elegant, fresh and with a creamy finish. Delicious with dinner, just as good on its own.
3. Lourensford Limited Release Chardonnay 2015 (R190)
This is a big wine and no mistake but it handles its 15% alcohol very well, wrapping it up in a velvet cloak of dense yellow stone fruit, toasty almond oak and finishing off with a creamy lemon-curd finish. Try it with some strong-flavoured food – has enough guts to partner meaty fish and meaty meat too if it comes to that!
4. La Petite Ferme Chardonnay 2016 (R200)
Love this farm – some of the best views in the Franschhoek Valley – so it’s great to see some new life being injected into the wines as well. This is only available from the estate so you’ll have to go there and enjoy it with their signature trout, horseradish and beetroot salad – I know, I know, what a terrible nuisance…… It’s the perfect match for the creamy yellow fruit and subtle oak.
5. Haskell Anvil Chardonnay 2015 (R320)
A Platter 5 Star stunner of a wine from one of the oldest Chardonnay vineyards in SA. The yields are risible (around 1 tonne per hectare if maths serves me correctly!), but the grapes give balanced, complex, fresh and endlessly-intense wine, heartened by a touch of oak and a backbone of stony minerality. Top stuff.
6. Hartenberg The Eleanor Chardonnay 2015 (R325)
Named for a Finlayson matriarch who owned this lovely farm until the mid-70’s, this is one of Hartenberg’s flagship range, standing alongside some stand-out Shirazes and elegant Bordeaux blends with aplomb. It’s a lavish wine which can keep for many years but since I LOVE the suggested pairing - Scallop and Chardonnay Risotto with a Basil Cream Sauce – I think I’d drink it now!
7. Lanzerac Mrs English Chardonnay 2014 (R400)
Named for a previous owner who did much to renovate the farm to its current glory, this is a bit of a ball-breaker of a wine – as indeed was the real Mrs English from the look of her! It’s no-holds barred, lavish and luscious but with a steely core which stops it being over the top. Roll this out for the very finest of foods on the most special of occasions.
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