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Hamilton Russell Chardonnay


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Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2020

Tasting Notes

Harvest was a touch earlier than usual, beginning in the first week of February. Budding was even and complete, helped by a fortuitous two days over 30 Centigrade in mid-September. The weather at flowering was benign, if a little wet. Ripening was a touch uneven. Overall the year was wetter than the previous few years (with a total annual rainfall of 849mm for calendar year 2019). A particularly wetter than average October and January created downy mildew pressures, which became odium and later botrytis pressures, not helped by high humidity and early morning dew. These were however satisfactorily held at bay with organic treatments.  The average maximum temperatures for Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar were exactly equal to our long-term average of 25 Centigrade (the long-term equivalent for Burgundy for Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep is 24.8 Centigrade), so on our measure, the vintage was cooler than 2019 and equal to the celebrated 2009 and 2015 vintages. A standout feature of the 2020 vintage was phenolic ripeness at lower alcohol than usual, combined with low sugar to alcohol conversions for the fermentations. A highly positive situation. Yields were, as always, very low. Pinot noir came in at 3.32 tons/ha (21,5 hl/ha) and Chardonnay came in even lower at 2.68 tons/ha (16.9 hl/ha). The wines have a marked elegance, mineral purity and saline quality. A very exciting outcome despite weather challenges.

A tight, mineral wine with classic Hamilton Russell Vineyards length and complexity. Prominent pear and lime fruit aromas and flavours are brought beautifully into focus by a tight line of bright natural acid and a long, dry minerality. An elegant, yet textured and intense wine with a strong personality of both place and vintage.

Scores & Reviews

96 pts Tim Atkin MW 2021

Lower in alcohol than the 2019 release – the vintage was cooler, explains Emul Ross – this nuanced Chardonnay combines grapes from 22 different blocks on the farm and confirms the wine’s status as one of the best examples in the Cape. Focused and saline, with subtle notes of struck match reduction, fine oak and some texture from 10% malolactic. Bravo! 2022-28

4 ½ Stars 2022 Platter’s South African Wine Guide

As sibling, decades-long a quality beacon, thoughtful terroir expression & vintage barometer. 20 (94 pts) alluring pear, citrus & starfruit with minerals & bright natural acid. Complex, balanced, alcohol laudably below 13%. Bunch pressed, fermented in barrel & foudre, 24% new, 9 months on lees.

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