This will be the 28th consecutive vintage of Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot noir to be released and the 2008 is a beautiful, fine, reflection of a generally more “feminine” red wine vintage for the Cape wine lands. We found lifted, violet and wild strawberry aromas, with lovely sour red cherry fruit on the palate balanced with meaty hints of carpaccio and spicy notes of clove and white pepper. As with many of our Pinot noirs, there is a characteristic sappy, savoury, marine quality to the wine with palate focusing fine grained tannins.
The 2008 reminds us most of the 2003. Both share lower than usual alcohols despite long hang-times and show (on release in the case of the 2003) fine, lifted red fruit aromas. While there has been a common terroir driven Hamilton Russell Vineyards classic, mineral, spicy “Europeaness” in all our Pinot noirs, each has its unique vintage driven personality. For recent vintages this could be briefly summarized as follows:
2000 – Fine and savoury, lively tannins
2001 – Big, rich, spicy and sumptuous
2002 – Round, juicy and easy
2003 – Lifted red fruit and elegant
2004 – Powerful, ripe, spicy and rich
2005 – Elegant, long and generous
2006 – Athletic, intense, spicy and rich
2007 – Round, savoury and voluptuous
2008 – Perfumed, fine and beautiful
We recently (July 6th, 2009) tasted a bottle of our 1982 Pinot noir – our second vintage. With 8 bottles left in our cellar, we only tasted this because the cork was leaking and around 1/3 of the bottle had been lost. Remarkably the wine was very much alive with a savoury, meaty, Bovril nose and only a hint of molasses. The palate was rich and still structured, tight and dry with a hint of dark berry fruit showing through the meaty smokiness. It was a treat!
If you have not tried or cellared the 2007 (Wine Spectator 93 rated) best move quickly before it disappears from the market.
And the Chardonnay 2008 is “drinking beautifully” ………
Our 2008 Chardonnay (6 months into the market) is in our opinion a particularly successful wine, despite the challenges of the vintage. Sadly yields were particularly low (even by our standards) and the wine will be gone before the release of our 2009.
Influential US palate Steve Tanzer of the International Wine Cellar rated our 2008 Chardonnay 92/100 with the comments ……. ” Sexy, highly nuanced nose combines white peach, pineapple, iodiney minerality, musky ginger and leesy nuances, all lifted by a floral topnote; like a hypothetical blend of Meursault and Chassagne. Densely packed, brisk and deep, with lovely racy acidity and a rocky element giving a light touch and impressive energy to the flavors of citrus and stone fruits, nutmeg and minerals. Finishes very subtle and very long, with excellent grip. This has all the elements to please the Burgundy lover-and all in an understated way.”
South African based sommelier Miguel Chan rated our 2008 Chardonnay 93/100 with the following comments …….. “a wine exuding confidence and extrovert personality, reminiscent of a Meursault richness with the austerity, precision and freshness of a Corton as well as the X Factor of a Montrachet. What a balancing act! Well done.”
“This is the greatest Cape Chardonnay I have tasted to date, and will be a very hard act to follow by any other South African wineries. It reminds me a lot of the stunning and world class 2001 …….. which when re-tasted blind last winter 2008, was simply impressive with mind blowing complexity and structure.”