South African Chardonnays
I would love to share four exceptional South African Chardonnays with the readers this month. As Neal Martin, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate notes, "A blind tasting of nearly 100 South African Chardonnays proved that this is South Africa's most consistent white grape variety. Chardonnay accounts for 8% of total plantings of grapes in South Africa."
The Sonop Reserve Chardonnay 2015 represents the finest selection of Chardonnay produced by Backsberg. The fruit came from low yielding old vines, producing grapes with exceptional flavours of apricot and pear. Barrel fermentation in French oak barriques has provided the structure and nuances of almond and vanilla. Malolactic fermentation and six months on the yeast lees, has added a creamy texture and long finish. Backsberg Cellars boasts 100 years of winemaking history and is one of three carbon neutral approved wineries in the world. They are rated as one of the top 100 wineries in the world. All wines are Kosher certified and this one is a steal at NT$750.
The Arendsig Single Vineyard is an exceptional wine with not an overly oak taste as so many Chardonnays have become. All Arendsig wines are a selection of Single Vineyard Wines, all from unique soil, climate and location. The wines are made with minimal interference throughout the vinification. During fermentation natural yeasts are used with no enzymes.
The vineyard is harvested in three different stages. The first pick adds tightness to the mid pallet and more citrus notes on the nose. The second pick gives the balance and bring the first and last pick together. The last pick adds complexity and tropical pineapple notes. This retails at NT$950 in Taiwan.
The Nederburg The Wine Masters Chardonnay 2015 shows delightful aromas of lime, melon and vanilla. It has a fresh, creamy palate with a touch of citrus and apricot. One should enjoy it with Camembert and Gruyere cheeses, Thai creamy seafood, or other dishes made of nuts, cream or butter. It retails in Taiwan around NT$550.
Groot Constantia's 2013 Chardonnay has been judged as the best out of 800 wines in the world at the recent 22nd annual Chardonnay du Monde competition, which was held from March 11-14, 2014 in Burgundy, France. Groot Constantia is South Africa's oldest wine producing estate (1685) and is a National Monument and a living museum. It is available for NT$2,200 in Taiwan.