De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2019, launched at Saint in Sandown….
Earlier this week I attended a luncheon at Saint in Sandown during which the latest release from the De Wetshof Wine Estate of their De Wethof Limestone Hill 2019. The wine is one of South Africa’s most popular unwooded Chardonnays, and it emphasises the reputation 2019 is getting for being one of the best vintages for white wine in the Cape’s recent history. Johann de Wet, CEO of De Wetshof Estate in Robertson, and our host told us that the relatively wet 2018 winter put some much-needed moisture back into the soils. But it was the temperate weather conditions before and leading up to the 2019 harvest that resulted in optimum ripening of fruit in the vineyards. Despite the relatively cold and wet Cape winter of 2018, the Cape is still experiencing a drought due to the previous five years’ low rainfall.
I remember doing a radio interview with Danie de Wet a couple of years ago – it was a four minute interview and he spoke, seemingly without drawing breath for nine minutes of the virtues of unwooded Chardonnay. The grapes for the De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2019 were harvested at dawn from vineyards growing on selected patches of terroir which give forth the required intensity of fruit ideal for an unwooded wine. Once in the cellar, the bunches are destemmed and pressed. The juice is cool settled overnight and the juice racked off the sediment in the morning. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, after which the wine lies on the lees with occasional stirring to build flavour. The wine is then prepared for bottling
From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with a screw cap. The label is simple and elegant. The Cape Vintners Classification [CVC] logo appears under the cap. In the glass, the wine is a pale buttery gold, gem bright. The American critic Robert Parker describes the wine thus “The Limestone Hill Chardonnay never sees oak, and offers impeccably pure, refreshing apple, peach and lemon fruit, a lovely leesy richness of texture, and a nutty, chalky, fruit-filled finish of imposing length. Understated and less tropical than some of the better un-oaked Australian Chardonnays, this wine possesses far better balance and sheer drink-ability – not to mention more finesse – than 99% of the world’s Chardonnay I have experienced at its price.” I couldn’t put it better. Johann de Wet adds “The key to Robertson is the high limestone content of the soils, limestone being an element ensuring chemical balance and ageability in the wines.” With cool cellaring for a year or two come the rewards. The wine is even-handedly priced at R95.00, excellent bang for your buck.
As Johann said to me on the day, “you can drink Chardonnay with anything.” How true. These are the three dishes I was served at Saint which were perfect with the wine – even the dessert. Delicious food, slick unobtrusive service, lovely restaurant.