I was lucky enough to catch up with Peter-Allan Finlayson for a lovely tasting and lunch last year on his spontaneous blink-of-an-eye visit to the UK to touch base with the wine trade (and also take in the Springboks versus Scotland rugby game at Murrayfield). So it was an extra special treat to hear that Peter-Allan would be over again in January to preview a few new vintages due to be released onto the market in May/June 2022.
Peter-Allan’s Crystallum wines are in the enviable position of being quite tightly allocated to start with and generally selling out nationally four to five months into the 12 month calendar. But his wines have earnt their quality reputation vintage after vintage and are sold at very moderate prices considering the quality and market demand. Getting an early look-in at new vintages thus becomes a very valuable exercise every year.
Crystallum Agnes Chardonnay 2021, WO Western Cape, 13% Abv.
Peter-Allan Finlayson describes the 2021 Agnes as a wine with great delicacy, elegance and a lithe light touch crystalline purity. Indeed, this wine is incredibly sleek with fabulous zesty aromatics of lemon and lime biscuits, dusty grey slate and hints of honeydew melon. On the palate, the wine is beautifully elegant and pure boasting boiled lemon bon bons candy, white peach and a subtle salty, leesy, savoury complexity on the finish. Lovely precision, light-touch intensity and concentration of flavour on the long, linear, persistent finish. An understated wine that will appeal to sophisticated drinkers. Drink on release and over 5 to 8+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Crystallum Single Vineyard Ferrum Chardonnay 2021, WO Overberg, 13% Abv.
The grapes for the second release of Ferrum Chardonnay are sourced from a one hectare slice of 12 year old vines located within a seven hectare vineyard block on iron rich soils that lies just three kilometres beyond the Creation Winery (in the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge) at Shaw’s Mountain in the Overberg. The other six hectares were planted by Peter-Allan more recently and currently go into the Agnes Chardonnay cuvee. The original part of the vineyard was based around Sauvignon Blanc vines that were field grafted over to Chardonnay. The aromatics show seductive lactic lemony tangerine notes of yellow citrus pastille, subtle salted toffee and delicate vanilla wood spice nuances over a flinty minerality. The palate is full, crystalline and finely balanced with a plush textural glycerol mouthfeel displaying hints of caramelised lemons, lime peel, lemon biscuits and salted vanilla ice cream on the finish. Another very impressive pinpoint, seamless expression of Chardonnay from Crystallum. Production is tiny so the challenge is always to track down a few precious bottles that you can drink on release or over 10+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)