South African Wine Review: Neil Ellis 2009 Chardonnay
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 the fact that this was partly fermented with wild yeasts in French oak barrels. An exceptional wine in this price range, and 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, overwooded 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 lipsmacking, 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.