The Capensis Chardonnay is made at a new South African winery owned by Barbara Banke of Jackson Family Wines in USA and South African Anthony Beck, and is produced from vineyards expertly sourced by renowned viticulturalist Rosa Kruger. The wine is produced by Graham Weerts, from vineyards located in Stellenbosch, the Overberg, and the Robertson region.
So I was intrigued to taste a pre-European release sample of the follow-up 2014. But then of course I realised I had already tasted the 2014 in November 2016 as part of the extensive Decanter Magazine’s blind Chardonnay tasting review. Reading my November review and noting the three judges scores, one can really see how this wine has evolved and improved with extra time in bottle over the past 5 months.
The Stellenbosch estate of Fijnbosch sits at 1,719 feet in elevation on clay soils with fynbos surrounding the vines, contributing to the Chardonnay’s exceptional natural acidity and complexity.
The Kaaimansgat vineyards in the Overberg, lie at an elevation of 2,484 feet. Impressively remote and resting up in the mountains of the Overberg, the Kaaimansgat vineyard literally translates to “crocodile’s lair” and has long been used in world class examples of Chardonnay from producers like Bouchard Finlayson and more latterly, Leeu Passant.
The final components are sourced from the E. Bruwer vineyard in Robertson, which lies at an elevation of 571 feet in a limestone rich terroir long renowned for producing top Chardonnay grapes.
This Chardonnay has an alluring lime green tinged lemon yellow glow. Still very youthful, there are initially intensely bold notes of vanilla bean, creme brûlée, and pannacotta cream. In 2014, 50% of the Cuvee was fermented in small French oak barrels (compared to 100% in 2013), with the balance fermented in stainless steel, and the wine is better for it. All the components were aged on their lees, being hand-stirred monthly for 10 months. Once in the glass, more complex aromas of lemon zest, yellow grapefruit and bergamot develop with subtle truffle oil and shiitaki mushroom notes. On the palate, there is certainly creamy breadth from the partial Malo (30 to 50%) which is beautifully balanced by crisp, pithy, crunchy green fruit acids. The fairground toffee apple nuances are still pronounced but should recede into the background as the wine ages, with the saline yellow citrus, lime cordial and dusty minerality becoming more pronounced. Stylistically a very bold, opulent wine that will appeal more to new world Chardonnay connoisseurs than perhaps Burgundy lovers. But I think that’s kind of the point? Nevertheless, in its youth, this wine is classy, seductive and very well made and should impress the fussiest of global Chardonnay drinkers.
(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)