Elgin Chardonnay Colloquium: Elgin versus the rest of the world, a blind tasting

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This was very interesting: as part of the Elgin Chardonnay Colloquium, we did a blind tasting with 21 different wines, pitching Elgin’s finest against some international benchmarks. Michael Fridjhon and I tasted blind, too, and gave our comments on each wine before revealing their identity. These are my notes and scores as written blind, and unaltered after the reveal.

Neil Ellis Chardonnay 2011 Elgin, South Africa
Powerful with some spicy depth to the rich pear and white peach fruit. Has citrus brightness and good acidity. There’s a lovely depth to this wine, with some ripe fruit characters, but also a brilliant fine spiciness. Citrussy finish. 94/100

Billaud Simon Chablis 1er Cru Monte de Tonnerre 2013 Burgundy, France
Beautifully linear, intense, vivid lemony fruit with some mandarin orange spicy detail, and a hint of creaminess. So linear and pure with no oak apparent. Very expressive and quite mineral. Lovely complexity here. 95/100

Almenkerk Chardonnay 2012 Elgin, South Africa
Rich with pear and peach fruit, showing brightness but also some creamy, slightly toasty richness. This has lovely breadth and shows a bit of mealy richness on the mid-palate. Rounded and a bit toasty with lovely depth to it. Lots of flavour but balanced and delicious. 93/100

Catena White Bones Chardonnay Adrianna Vineyard 2012 Mendoza, Argentina
Distinctive with a slight flyspray edge to the nose. It’s bold, a bit pithy and very citrussy. Dense and compact, this is quite unusual with a very distinctive pithy personality. 89/100

Sutherland Chardonnay 2012 Elgin, South Africa
Very rich and dense with ripe, toasty fruit. Has some pithiness and a twist of herbs, with lovely weight and richness. Lively, bright and vivid with a juicy finish. A rich Chardonnay but it has developed nicely, showing peach, melon and pear fruit, with a pineapple twist. 91/100

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Oak Valley Groendanberg Chardonnay 2014 Elgin, South Africa
Some richness on the nose with ripe pear and peach fruit. The palate is generous but has lovely freshness and some attractive spicy notes. Generous but has good acidity and a lovely spicy edge. Quite modern and polished with lovely depth to the fruit. Stylish. 93/100

Comtes Lafon Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru 2014 Burgundy, France
There’s lovely focus and freshness here. Has keen lemony acidity, and a mineral, matchstick twist. Complex and reductive with a delicious spicy twist. Really linear and focused with great precision. Could age really nicely. 95/100

Paul Cluver Estate Chardonnay 2014 Elgin, South Africa
Very bright nose with tangerines and lemons. The palate is vivid with some pineapple richness and bright acidity. Fresh, tangy and focused with a nice lemon and grapefruit finish. Primary with lovely fruit purity. 93/100

Failla Haynes Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 California
Lovely aromatics here: has beautifully focused pear and peach fruit. The palate is expansive but focused with lovely fruit sweetness and smooth texture. Lots of depth, but very refined and pure. Ripe and sweet, but well balanced. 93/100

Richard Kershaw Clonal Selection Chardonnay 2014 Elgin, South Africa
Aromatic, toasty nose with fine spicy oak and appealing sweet fruit. The palate has some creamy, bready notes complementing the ripe peach and pear fruit, with some juicy citrus hints on the finish. Really attractive new world-style Chardonnay that is full of appeal. 92/100

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Hannay Chardonnay 2014 Elgin, South Africa
Very complex and taut with lovely acidity, as well as some ripe pear and peach fruit. There’s real intensity here with a lovely juiciness and good acidity. Has some ripe stone fruit character, as well as hints of green tea. Quite mineral and taut, with the riper fruit characters amply balanced by the fresh mineral intensity. 95/100

Dog Point Chardonnay 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lovely mineral/matchstick edge to the citrussy fruit. Has some toasty, nutty richness, too, with a really lively spiciness. Beautifully balanced and really vital with keen acidity and a zippy, spicy finish. Very stylish and complex, with lots of potential. 95/100

Iona Chardonnay 2014 Elgin, South Africa
This is lovely. There’s a fine spiciness and some peachy intensity, but also lovely harmony to the ripe pear and white peach fruit. Broad, concentrated yet really refined with a touch of appealing cabbage complexity alongside the generous fruit. Very stylish. 93/100

Bindi Quartz Chardonnay 2015 Macedon Ranges, Australia
Lively, aromatic citrus fruit nose with nice pear and peach fruit, and some tangerine and melon exotic notes. There’s a subtle herby edge, too. Very appealing with nice fruit weight. Has some brightness as well as sweet fruit. Quite mineral on the finish. 92/100

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South Hill King of the Hill Chardonnay 2015 Elgin, South Africa
Chunky with a pithy edge to the pear and peach fruit. Has a lively spiciness. Quite a dense wine with concentrated fruit flavours. It’s not terribly refined. Bold and slightly pithy on the finish. 89/100

Norman Hardie Cuvée L Chardonnay 2015 Prince Edward County, Canada
Bright and focused with linear citrus fruit. Lemony and mineral with well integrated matchstick flavours. Lean, but not too tart, with precision and elegance. Very zippy and vital. So lovely. 95/100

Highlands Road Chardonnay 2015 Elgin, South Africa
There’s generosity and ripeness here, but also fresh, zippy acidity. Electric on the finish with sweet, plump pear and peach fruit, with lovely purity and very bright acidity. Finishes sweet and lemony. 93/100

Boschendal Appellation Series Chardonnay 2015 Elgin, South Africa
This is delicious. Supple, elegant and ripe with broad pear and citrus fruit. This is really expressive with generous, broad fruit but also nice freshness. Fruit-driven and delicious. 93/100

Julien Schaal Evidence Chardonnay 2015 Elgin, South Africa
This has some toasty, nutty, spicy richness, alongside the sweet peachy fruit. Really big and bold, but not too ripe. Has a hint of fig and coffee as well as some pithy bitterness on the finish. A showy style. 91/100

Errazuriz Las Pizarras Chardonnay 2014 Aconcagua Costa, Chile
Minty herbal edge to the nose. The palate is lively and bright with keen acidity and a touch of greenness. Quite mineral and saline with a distinctive mintiness on the finish. An outlier. 90/100

Elgin Vintners Chardonnay 2015 Elgin, South Africa
Very refined with fresh citrus fruits. Nicely weighted with a bit of pithy freshness and some saline lemon and pear characters. Finishes long and salty, with well integrated acidity keeping things fresh. Compact, with a hint of fruit sweetness and good future potential. 93/100

 

2 comments to Elgin Chardonnay Colloquium: Elgin versus the rest of the world, a blind tasting

  • Alex Lake

    This is great – would love to repeat something like this in London.
    South African Chardonnay seems to be going places, and whoever organised the tasting picked some good ringers!

  • Andrew Gunn

    Yes, we do indeed plan to have a similar event in London and New York next year.

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