Franschhoek wine estate Chamonix underscored its leading status among South African Pinot Noir producers with a coveted top-five spot in the Mosaic Top 5 Pinot Noir Wine Awards, a competition exclusively committed to recognising the quality of Cape Pinot Noir.
The Top 5 Award went to Chamonix Reserve Pinot Noir 2020, the top-tier wine made from a variety which Chamonix pioneered in the Franschhoek region.
According to Neil Bruwer, Chamonix’s winemaker, this award confirms the Chamonix legacy of quality Pinot Noir, especially now that South Africa is coming to the fore as a country with a reputation of excellence in Pinot Noir.
“It is a great honour to be recognised by the Mosaic Top 5 awards at a time when the Cape is making the best Pinot Noir in our long history of winemaking,” he says. “This recognition is also important in reaffirming the role winemaking provenance and terroir has in ensuring our Franschhoek region’s reputation as one of the country’s top appellations for a variety of cultivars.”
Chamonix Reserve Pinot Noir 2020 is made from grapes grown on the steep mountain slopes of Chamonix, the vineyards situated at 400m above sea-level. Soils of broken shale and decomposed granite form the basis of the terroir, the other being the coolness of the high-lying vineyard sites and constant air-flows from the south-east in summer and north- west in winter.
“The cool, airy conditions are complemented by ideal levels of sunlight radiation, allowing our Pinot Noir to ripen slowly to a level of ideal phenolic ripeness,” says Bruwer. “We manage this perfection in the fruit with careful hand-selection of grapes before they undergo the vinification process.”
Grapes are fermented in concrete tanks for two weeks, with 40% of the grapes undergoing whole bunch-fermentation to add firm tannins and backbone to the wine. Post-fermentation the grapes are pressed, and after malolactic fermentation the wine matures for 16 months in 225ℓ French oak barrels with 40% being new oak.
“Chamonix Pinot Noir is recognised for expressing the unmissable Pinot Noir features of dark cherry, forest floor and a slight feral savouriness,” says Bruwer. “But this wine is also true Cape Pinot Noir in that the sunshine to which the vineyards are exposed add a bright- fruited plushness to the wine. If I may say so, I think this element captivated the Mosaic Top 5 Pinot Noir judges – judging wine is hard work, but when you come across a Pinot Noir that is also truly delicious, rating the wine is suddenly a lot easier.”