Celebrating Chardonny

ABC, the Anything but Chardonnay Club, can expect dwindling membership after Danie and Lesca de Wet’s classy Celebration of Chardonnay varietal tasting on Friday, out on their elegant Robertson spread which features a remarkable reconstruction of Koopmans de Wet House. Import a few bergies and you’d swear you were in Strand Street, Cape Town, on your way to the Fireman’s Arms.

ch Celebrating Chardonny

Thirty two wines had been suggested by a panel of worthies polled in an e-mail by convener Dave Hughes. The panel featured such seasoned palates as Jean-Pierre Rossouw, John Platter of wine guide fame, Emile Joubert and current Platter editor Philip van Zyl although only Emile pitched in person. WINE magazine was represented by former editor Fiona McDonald and incumbent Christian Eedes with the former physically present in rude good health.

The entire editorial trinity of the Grape communal blog had voted (although only one materialized for the tasting itself) and Johannesburg was elegantly represented by Miss Juliet Cullinan with Marilyn Cooper using a postal vote. Michael Olivier, Dave Biggs and Bennie Howard added serious palate weight and there was an impressive quorum of winemakers present. As for the selection, the only omission I detected was Julien Schaal’s African Dream, which was our loss.

Fifteen wines were presented by Dave in the cellar along with an amusing stream-of-consciousness narration and the remaining seventeen were dispensed by sommeliers over a Garth Stroebel blow-out lunch. Of the cellar selections, my top ten were:

1. Rustenberg Five Soldiers 2006: wonderful mouth feel and great mid-palate intensity. Awesome Adi. 19/20

2. Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale 2007: a wine with character, surprises galore and lingering length. 18.5/20

3. Springfield Méthode Ancienne 1999: complexity city. Totally great Bruwer bombshell. 18.5/20

4. Vergelegen Reserve 2006: perfect balance, floral and chalky. André at the acme of his game. 18/20

5. Jordan Nine Yards 2006: a Gary and Cathy Cape classic, the most nominated wine in the lineup. 18/20

6. Hartenberg Eleanor 2005: coconut, almonds, vanilla and peaches, Carl Schultz supreme. 18/20

7. Chamonix Reserve 2007: needs more time but further proof that Chamonix is a top five cellar. Go, Gottfried, go! 18/20

8. De Wetshof Bateleur 1998: still going strong after all these years, a little mint, some mushrooms, much depth. 17.5/20

9. Waterford 2006: lightly oaked with a delicate floral nose and fresh citrus notes. 17.5/20

10. Thelema 2006: lime and chalk with impressive steely minerality. Not as fat as previous. 17/20