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Hamilton Russell Chardonnay


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Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2019

Tasting Notes

2019 will go down as the year of “the fire”. A massive fire burned around Hamilton Russell vineyards on January 11th, directly damaging 10% of our Pinot noir and causing concerns over smoke taint. Careful advance measurements, and separate extremely gentle vinifications, have however enabled us to produce a fine, complex and beautiful 2019, albeit in a much negligable quantity. A great pity about the low production as the year looks to be a truly great one for Pinot noir. Fortunately the fire passed through very rapidly reducing smoke exposure. Fire was not the only challenge. An unusually warm May, June and July effected Chardonnay dormancy and as a result bud break was extremely uneven and in some cases incomplete. Our Chardonnay crop was 44% down, but the quality is excellent, with unusually slow ferments resulting in a generous texture with our typical bright minerality, stylistically somewhere between 2015 and 2018.

Overall the vintage was a cooler than 2017 and even 2018, with an average maximum temperature for Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar of 24.5 Centigrade (versus an equivalent long term average for Burgundy of 24.8 Centigrade for this period). Rainfall was lower than average for Spring and during harvest, but occurred in frequent small amounts causing sustained high humidity. Fortunately our organic treatments proved highly effective against the resulting downy and powdery mildew threat. And the day after harvest finished, the serious rains began – some luck at least! We had the highest March rainfall in 21 years. Record low production and several challenges, but the 2019’s have a pure, refined beauty.

Scores & Reviews

95 pts – Tim Atkin MW

94 pts Christian Eedes, Wine Magazine – “… the nose shows lemon and orange plus some leesy complexity while the palate is surprisingly rich given a moderate alcohol of 13.2% – great purity of fruit and nicely integrated acidity before a finish which is long and savoury. Lots and lots going on.”

Matthew Jukes, Money Week, UK – “… this is the most remarkable HR chardonnay I have ever tasted. With stunning depth and juiciness, plush, but controlled oak and serious length, this is a phenomenal creation. There is exquisite balance here, too, and all of this class and luxury sits atop stiletto-sharp acidity and a restrained 13.2% alcohol level. Pound for pound, this wine is in contention for Chardonnay of the Year.”

93+ pts Greg Sherwood MW – “This wine shows the true pretty, overt appeal of the 2019 vintage without any of the usual youthful reduction and broody mineral austerity. The aromatics are bright, pure and lifted, ultra expressive, offering up seductive notes of Spring flowers, lemon cordial, green apple, yellow grapefruit confit and honeydew melon pastille sweets. The palate mirrors the aromatic succulence and generous fruit forward concentration boasting hallmark notes of sweet citrus fruit intensity, crystalline purity, tangy acids and a fleshy, glycerol harmonious persistence. A little more showy fruit immediacy will surely see this vintage race off the shelves with new and old Hamilton Russell collectors alike.”

93 pts Andrew Howard MW, Decanter – “A very fine Chardonnay produced in difficult circumstances given the fire/smoke issues in the Western Cape. Unlike the Pinot Noir, this has been produced with 100% estate fruit and is very successful. Bunches were pressed whole (rather than de-stemmed) to reduce any smoke taint risks. Very crisp on the palate with fine acidity and a touch of stoned fruit, this is concentrated, mineral and elegant. Very youthful, ideally give this another 12 months to blossom a bit more.”


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