Hamilton Russell over the past couple of decades has solidified its position as one of the finest producers of world class Chardonnay. The critical acclaim with each passing vintage seems to illustrate testament to this fact. On our recent trip to South Africa we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to break bread and try the wines from this esteemed estate with owners Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell. There is no doubt that he and Olive are a dynamic and tireless couple who are totally devoted to getting the word out about their wines, as well as being huge proponents and great ambassadors of the South African category.
The just recently released 2021 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay is another exceptional offering, in true form with its precision of fruit, linear drive and its underlying austere minerality and noteworthy length. Anthony references his 2021 Chardonnay, the 40th for the estate, as fabulous, coming from one of the coolest vintages in the Hemel-en Aarde Valley in 25 years. He and winemaker Emul Ross believe it to be one of the finest vintages produced for both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
This is another notable Chardonnay and one of their finest to date and a great expression of sight and place solidifying its standing as one of the world’s premium Chardonnay. As a sidebar the availability of this wine due to world wide demand has made it extremely limited.
5 Stars 2023 Platter’s South African Wine Guide
Terroir expressed at its best. 21***** (96 pts) steps up on 20 (94 pts) in its elegant sophistication, fragrant apple strudel, fresh pear, citrus & fleshy, creamy texture lifted by mouth-watering natural acidity. Complexity & excellent focus with unflagging finish. Bunch pressed, fermented & aged on lees in larger (500L) barrels, 26% new, 9 months. Ageworthy.
96 pts Tim Atkin MW 2022
Aniseed and subtle gunflint notes segue into a balanced, focused palate, with 15% malolactic adding a little cream to the flavours of pear, citrus peel and lemon grass. Classy stuff.
91 pts Vinous
It has a very perfumed bouquet with honeysuckle, grapefruit and light wild honey scents that is nicely supported by the oak. The palate is crisp on the entry with fine acidity. There is a fine sharpness to this Chardonnay, a twist of sour lemon and orange rind towards the finish and a saline aftertaste. This is very promising.
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.
This stellar vintage was later and cooler than usual. Based on our measure of temperature, the average of the maximum temperatures for the 4 hottest months (crucial to harvest) Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, 2021 came in at 24.3 Centigrade. This compares to 24.8 Centigrade for a long-term average of the equivalent period in Burgundy. In the last 25 years, only 2001, 2004 and 2008 have been cooler. Winter was wetter than usual with 140mm more rain than average, filling dams and building the water table beautifully. Chill units started accumulating later than usual and a cool Spring and later budding accounted for the later harvest. A warm January was a welcome help towards healthy ripening. Any disease pressure from rain showers during ripening was effectively controlled organically. Yields, as always for us, were low. The Pinot noir harvest finished 10 days later than 2020, and the Chardonnay harvest finished 8 days later. Fruit quality and acidity were exceptional for both. The 2021 wines stand out for their complex, layered elegance, purity and mineral liveliness.
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