My day spent in Hemel en Aarde (heaven and earth) is one that I’ll remember for a long time. I can’t recall a day spent in wine country with so many good visits (although I am sure there have been one or two, simply because I have been fortunate to visit many wine regions).
I started off with Peter Finlayson (above) at Bouchard Finlayson. Peter is one of the pioneers of the valley, and his Chardonnays and Sauvignons are particularly impressive.
Second visit was at Newton Johnson, with Bevan, Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson. They are on fire at the moment, with cracking Pinot Noir and a remarkable 2012 Chardonnay. Look out for the brilliant three single-vineyard Pinots from 2012 and the new Rhone blend, also from 2012, which is not yet released.
Next up, the pioneer. Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell took me through a vertical of the famous Hamilton Russell Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Smart wines, with the 2010 Pinot particularly impressive. These wines seemed to have gained some elegance of late.
I then headed off to see Chris and Suzaan Alheit (above), who make wine in the valley but from grapes grown elsewhere. Chris and Suzaan make whites only. The 2012 Cartology (Chenin-based blend) and 2012 Radio Lazarus (straight Chenin) are utterly brilliant, and eclipse the excellent 2011 Cartology.
Peter Allan Finlayson rocked up at the end of the visit, with some friends of his, so we finished with a beer. It was brilliant!
I headed over the road to visit Kevin Grant (above), whose Ataraxia Chardonnays are remarkable. They are all good, and it was just great to taste in his chapel-like tasting room in the late afternoon light. Kevin has also bravely held back from releasing his Pinot until it is ready. The latest, a good effort, is inexpensive and has ‘declassified’ on the label. When he does release one, it will be really good.
Finally, Creation, with JC (above) and Carolyn Martin and their harvest crew. JC is a dude and his wines have lovely pure, sweet fruit and an approachable personality. They are justifiably popular. We dined here watching the sun go down, chowing on plentiful crayfish, which goes particularly well with Hemel en Aarde Sauvignon Blanc!
Full report and video coming soon.