Chardonnay: Love or Confusion

Jimi Hendrix was right, when it comes to Chardonnay, it’s either love or confusion.

Mama, we must get together and find out 
Exactly what we’re tryin’ to do 
Love or confusion? 

Robertson is the go-to destination for SA Chardonnay with wines, like those of Danie de Wet and Abrie Bruwer at Springfield, in the vanguard since the cultivar was smuggled into SA in somebody’s Jockeys.  So it makes sense if you want to map terroir, to start in Robertson and choose Chardonnay as your cultivar.  It also makes sense to invite Jan Coetzee (below) along as he is the owner of a classical palate wat skrik vir niks.

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So above you see us all in the De Wetshof boardroom yesterday, getting to grips with 27 Chardonnays from the seven wards of Robertson.  Like the dwarves of Snow White, they all had their own character and were definitely related, with Klipdrift and Goudmyn standouts.  Although as Boland pointed out, whether this was as a result of terroir or winemaker is yet to be determined.  A project for a University, perhaps.  Although its probably beyond the capabilities of the Business School at UCT with their unqualified visiting professors.  The University of Stellenbosch is a far better bet.

Certainly there are tasteable similarities between a Spes Bona from Van Loveren and a Zandvliet in terms of texture and a distinct quince flavour as Johann Fourie, chief winemaker at KWV identified.  The Klipdrift wines have a common precise citrus character evident in the excellent Major’s Hill and Springfield wines while Danie’s own Goudmyn drops have an electric stone-fruit character that is quite distinct and… electrifying.  The freshness of Abrie’s Methode Ancienne 2009 was a marvel – but then as Boland confirmed, 2009 wines will last another 25 years.  “It was the best vintage for Chardonnay since 1980.”

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Johann de Wet is in the driving seat for this project and has identified a terroir map for his valley as a marketing necessity.  It is certainly the most effective defence against the virus of bulk exports that strip Chardonnay of all its character faster than a stripper sheds her secrets at Mavericks.