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From tractor driver to winemaker

Christo Hanse is making one of the best Chardonnays around!

by: Neil Pendock | 20 Nov 2016

Christo Hanse was the first winemaker to showcase a Chardonnay at the biannual Celebration of Chardonnay held on De Wetshof estate in Robertson last week. His wine was the least expensive of the day and Hanse shone in a line-up that included such local legends as Anthony Hamilton Russell and Peter Finlayson from Bouchard Finlayson, who also presented an unwooded wine.

Chardonnay is the great white grape of Burgundy and several were presented, including the 2014 Domaine Henri Boillot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchère. Which is quite a mouthful to pronounce and even harder to afford, as it’s R1 600 a bottle from the importer.

It is not the most expensive Chardonnay around, either. Even South African Chardonnays can set you back R1000 per bottle, such as Capensis made by Antony Beck and Barbara Banke, owner of US producer Jackson Family Wines.

Now that 17 wines have earned five stars in the Platter’s wine label guide earlier this month, expect Chardonnay prices to shoot out the lights. Especially among those who drink wine by reputation, rather than taste.

One bottle of Boillot will buy you 21 bottles of Hanse’s wine and still leave you change for a packet of NikNaks. Yet, they’re both made from the same grape. In fact, Hanse refined his style after visiting France with Eikendal cellar master Nico Grobler.

There are a few differences between the two wines, however. Boillot ferments and matures his wine in barrels made of French oak, while Hanse used stainless steel tanks. The grapes for the Burgundy come from a small, walled vineyard called Clos de la Mouchere, while Hanse gets his grapes from the Eikendal vineyards on the Helderberg and some farmers in cool Elgin. Using two suppliers gives Hanse’s wine an Elgin apple zing in addition to opulent tropical fruit from Stellenbosch.

Monsieur Boillot is the fifth generation to make wine in Burgundy and his son Guillaume has just joined the operation. Hanse started working at Eikendal as a tractor driver. He trained on the job and lacks the celebrity status and reputation of Boillot. But both men have made excellent wines, true to their own styles.

Hanse’s wine is great with pasta, especially when it is made from grated courgette, rather than flour, as they do in the Banting special at il Leone Mastrantonio restaurant in De Waterkant, with grilled prawns or clams.

The wine has sufficient density and mouth grip to deal with creamy sauces and Summer salads are also a natural fit. Pizza will also suit and, at this price, a takeaway meal can become a feast.

Wine of the Week: Eikendal Janina 2015 unwooded Chardonnay.

ALSO READ: 6 Red wines that will go perfectly with a Summer braai

Read more on: wine  |  chardonnay  |  braai

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