Elgin recently celebrated their fourth annual Chardonnay Colloquium at South Hill Vineyards – the perfect event for all Chardonnay enthusiasts.
Guests gathered outside the cellar for a light breakfast with teas and coffees to line the stomach for the Chardonnay marathon that awaited us. For those that love bubbly, delicious Charles Fox MCC Brut Reserve was available to enjoy as a refreshment.
Clear, bright, golden straw colour and a lively effervescence. Fresh fruity aromas, mingled with delicate bouquet of honeyed raisin and biscotti. On the palate hints of pears and apples, follow through with a slight savoury tone and generous finish.
The brand new wine cellar was the perfect venue to explore all things Chardonnay. A panel of experts – Elgin winemaker and Master of Wine, Richard Kershaw, Wine Educator, Cathy Marston and UK TV presenter and journalist, Joe Wadsack – guided guests through a tasting of eleven 2017 vintage Elgin Chardonnays, along with a presentation on Elgin’s climate and a discussion on Chardonnay characteristics and food pairings.
WHAT IS COLLOQUIUM?
Some of you might ask what is colloquium? It is quite a mouthful word and it stems from the Latin word meaning – conversation, conference, discussion. The event was everything Chardonnay – from the discussion to discovering and exploring Chardonnay.
BRIEF OVERVIEW – ELGIN
Richard Kershaw started off with an introduction of the Elgin Valley and that it is mostly known as a cool climate region. Historically known for its apple and pear production, recent decades have seen a number of orchards being turned to vineyards by passionate winemakers who have recognised Elgin’s uniquely cool climate as the perfect environment to create distinctive, characterful wines.
ELGIN 2017 CHARDONNAYS
Wine producers showcased their 2017 vintage during the morning tasting. It was a wonderful way to explore the Chardonnay variety, expressed in all forms and styles.
Chardonnay is a wine that has an array of citrus and stone fruit aromas, but with a mineralic restraint that follows to fine natural acidity and fine oak nuances adding length to the finish. Chardonnay is one of the most versatile food wines.
1. ALMENKERK ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017
The complex nose leads with citrus, lemontree flower, white peach and fresh coconut complemented with a floral tone that underscores its minerality. The zesty palate is softened by the lees contact, leading to a lingering finish. Typical Elgin cool-climate elegance.
2. PAUL WALLACE REFLECTION 2017
The 2017 vintage is their second vintage of Chardonnay. Spent 9 months in wood. A fruit-forward entry onto the palate where citrus notes and a delicate oaky sweetness, combined with an underlying minerality produce a wine with good breadth, length and mouthfeel. This Chardonnay reflects purity of fruit, a natural elegance and texture prevalent in Chardonnays from the Elgin Valley.
3. OAK VALLEY GROENLANDBERG CHARDONNAY 2017
The 2017 vintage produced wines with great power and depth, yet lovely finesse and very intense varietal expression. Wild yeast, gentle winemaking and consistent approach to French Oak Maturation allows one to truly experience wine grown in a very special place.
4. LOTHIAN CHARDONNAY 2017
Made from 100% Chardonnay, the nose exudes ripe stone fruit, lemon zest and pineapple slices. Clean, refreshing acidity supports the ripe yellow-profile fruit, complexed by vanilla bean spice and an oatmeal texture. The fine acidic gives this wine a lively tension.
5. HIGHLANDS ROAD CHARDONNAY 2017
This is a 100% Chardonnay and received a Veritas Double Gold award. Citrusy aromas with beautiful floral notes. A full-bodied wine with a smooth and creamy palate, showing great minerality. Only 4000 bottles made and matured in French Oak barrels for 10 months. Good quality wine with a generous length.
6. PAUL CLUVER ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2017
On the nose this wine shows great citrus aspects and winter melon notes with some light toasted brioche in the back ground. Tangerine fruit and citrus blossom fragrances are apparent, with hints of vanilla pod and almond flakes. These characteristics follow through onto the palate. The fine, fresh acidity is natural, and adds poise and focus to the wine.
7. NEIL ELLIS WHITEHALL CHARDONNAY 2017
Straw like colour with greenish hues. Attractive aromas of nectarine, hints of lemon zest and white flower notes. True to style the pallet is harmonious and textural and finishes with beautifully balanced acidity, long and flavoursome mid pallet with rich texture reflect conditions of the vintage.
8. SUTHERLAND RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2017
The Chardonnay presents an enchanting pale straw colour that is accented by shimmering green facets in the glass. Bright, pure aromas of marmalade and toasty oak abound the nose, tumbling on to a well-structured palate that flaunts a lovely texture. A complex arrangement of yeasty flavours, elegant oak characters and bright citrus tones combine in harmony on the palate, while a pleasingly long finish rounds off the Sutherland Chardonnay’s captivating performance. Showing great complexity and will age gracefully.
9. IONA CHARDONNAY 2017
Stylish and elegant wine, spent 11 months in French oak thereafter the wine was blended in stainless steel tanks. Bright citrus, oyster shell minerality, and a hint of almonds and biscuit brioche on the finish. Beautiful floral notes and bright fresh acidity persist.
10. KERSHAW CLONAL SELECTION CHARDONNAY 2017
Restrained, mineral style focussed on elegance with a white fruit character, some oatmeal and some complexity gained from percipient applied wood. Matured in French oak with 38% new and remainder in second and third filled barrels. 10% left to ferment in breathable eggs.
11. BOSCHENDAL ELGIN CHARDONNAY 2017
Vibrant pale gold with a glimmer of green. Expressive grapefruit and Golden Delicious apple aromas detailed with graceful lime blossom, frangipani and white truffle aromas further embellished by discreet vanilla oak spice. A generous palate that is powerful yet intricate. Pronounced citrus fruit purity is layered with hints of oak and signature minerality. Finishes with remarkable intensity and length.
A decadent harvest table awaited us as we made our way to the restaurant with a selection of delicious platters of charcuterie, salads, breads, veggies and prawns. Nothing beats a wonderful meal with a glass of cool climate Elgin wines.
ELGIN CHARDONNAY vs INTERNATIONAL CHARDONNAY
The afternoon session was a blind-tasting experience where Elgin Chardonnays were compared with international wines from England, Argentina, Chile, California, France, Australia and New Zealand.
It was a wonderful experience to taste the different styles and aromas that these international wines had to offer. It made me proud not only as someone who enjoys Elgin Wines but as a South African as the Elgin wines are just as elegant and top-notch and our wines are just as great as any wines out there in the world.
We ended the day on a high note mingling with fellow Chardonnay lovers as we enjoyed a variety of delicious drinks and gourmet snacks. Nothing like a flavoursome Butter chicken to make the tastebuds sing after a long day of enjoying and exploring everything Chardonnay.
The Chardonnay Colloquium is the perfect opportunity for any Chardonnay enthusiasts out there to discover what makes Elgin Chardonnay so distinct and much sought after around the world.