2015 Crystallum "The Agnes" Chardonnay Hemel-en-Aarde / Overberg

SKU #1281660 92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 92+ (13.5% alcohol): Pale, bright straw-yellow. A bit lighter and more citrussy on the nose than the Clay Shales, offering aromas of white peach, lemon drop, lime, apple, nutmeg, minerals and crushed stone. A bit less silky than the Clay Shales but firmer and more sharply delineated, showing less sweetening influence of oak but lovely dusty brown spice influence. A slightly cooler style with a tighter, more minerally, more savory back end. This will need some patience to put on weight and expand.

K&L Notes

Crystallum is an awesome project from “young gun” winemaker and “Zoo Biscuits Wine Gang” member Peter-Allan Finlayson. His father, Peter Finlayson, is pretty much South African winemaking royalty. Peter-Allan is part of a younger generation of winemakers really putting modern South African wines on the map for all the right reasons. This “crew” makes great wines, surfs, Braais and generally has fun. It’s fine wine without any pretentious snobbery—and I love it. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has this to say about Peter-Allan: “Sometimes you meet a young winemaker whose enthusiasm and approach makes an impression…you intuitively feel that they are one to watch, perchance a star of the future.” The Crystallum wines combine a very Burgundian sense of restraint with a modern acid line and purity of varietal expression. (Ryan Woodhouse, K&L South Africa wine buyer)

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Price: $24.99

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Staff Image By: Alex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/11/2017 | Send Email
This great Chardonnay is entirely barrel fermented, but its richness (and it is rich) is mostly lees based since they only use 10% new oak. There are vibrant tropical flavors of melon and citrus, a rich creamy texture from the lees and time in barrel, and a well balanced cool climate acid to keep it fresh. Great example of Walker Bay Chardonnay from South Africa.

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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

South Africa

- Now that it has adopted a multi-racial attitude, and now that the world has embraced its government and its exports, South Africa has become a major wine producer. Unfortunately, South Africa has had a difficult time joining the ranks of competitive winemaking countries. During the anti-apartheid sanctions in the 1980s, South African wine was dealt the huge blow when it was removed from the international market, and for political reasons it was quite difficult for wine producers to market wine to the black majority. Things are finally looking up for the wine industry here, and quality has never been higher. South Africa produces a grape cloned from Pinot Noir and Cinsault, called Pinotage, which is the country's unique varietal. Chenin Blanc (known as Steen) makes up one-third of its vines. Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz are becoming increasingly popular as are Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.8