Napoleon ordered his troops to salute the vineyards of Chambertin whenever they passed – such was his reverence for the patch of Burgundian soil that delivered his favourite wine. I get the same urge when stopping at a specific rocky lay of land on the De Wetshof Estate in Robertson and seeing that piece of earth where the gnarled Chardonnay vines stand used for creating the estate’s Bateleur Chardonnay.
And let’s face it, in these claustrophobic times of shut-down, anything named after a magnificent free-flying eagle has a particular allure.
Despite the pressure placed on my physical and mental stamina, a marathon wine-appreciation session this week-end past has me beating the South African Chardonnay Drum with admirable vigour this Monday morning.
Complexity and freshness rule in this, one of my perennial white favourites. David Finlayson is a master of the blend and has perfected a choral harmony from three varieties: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Sauvignon Blanc provides the typical bolt of zesty freshness, while the Sémillon gives a welcoming firm mouth-feel and educated waxiness.
Stellenbosch, the Swartland and Hemel-en-Aarde lost out as the Breederivier wine region kicked some serious butt in the world’s leading region-focussed wine competition. The passionate, terroir-driven producers in the Robertson district made an indelible mark at the 2013 Novare SA Terroir Wine Awards, with two wines in the selected SA Terroir Top 5 Estate Wines as well as five National Winners from all submissions.