Neil Ellis 2009 Chardonnay, South Africa

Posted by Keith Wallace

 Tasting Notes

A reviving style of Chardonnay. Exotic spices and fruit lead the charge into a flashbang of crisp acidity trailing a contrail of wood smoke. Ginger, kiwi, and peach are balanced out by traces of cinnamon and toasted vanilla seeds. Hops-like grapefruit notes in the finish are married with an edge of minerality.

A hint of earthiness in the finish highlights that this was partly fermented with wild yeasts in French oak barrels. An exceptional wine in this price range manages to balance itself between modern and classical styles of winemaking.

About South African Chardonnay

Via Wikipedia. Although this is South Africa’s most improved varietal, it was originally so bland that it could only get better. The trouble was that as soon as new oak became widely available for the first time, many winemakers went over the top, producing heavy, over wooded Chardonnays. These wines also suffered from poor raw material, but this situation improved with clonal selection and matching this variety to more suitable terroirs.

The best-oaked Chardonnays are often barrel-fermented, rather than just oak-aged, with just a kiss of creamy new oak, although some less refined, if just as lip-smacking, wines dominated by yummy, coconutty-oak are also to be found. The top unoaked Chardonnays are very pure and exquisitely balanced, and they often belie their hot-climate origins. For more, check out our wine reviews.

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