Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson
Experience 4.0 Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Wine 4.0

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

BOUCHARD FINLAYSON VINEYARD
Saturday 6 May 2017
https://www.bouchardfinlayson.co.za/

Experience: 4.5/5
Wines: 4.5/5

It took less than 5 minutes for the kilometre hop from Hamilton Russell to Bouchard Finlayson. Cape Town, my start point for the day to explore wines of the Hermanus region, was over an hour and 120 kilometres away. I was pleased for the short journey as Bouchard Finlayson, like Hamilton Russell, closed for tasting at 1pm on Saturdays.

The iconic homestead roof sat like a thatched hat on the hillside above as I entered the rising drive towards the Tasting Room. Behind, the mountains with their South-East facing slopes were clothed in grassland and trees in the autumn sunshine. The views all around were glorious and it came as no surprise that Hemel-en-Aarde means ‘heaven and earth’.

What perhaps is surprising is that it took until 1995 and 1996 for Anthony Hamilton Russell and Peter Finlayson to pioneer the first wineries in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The slopes behind the Walker Bay, closer than 2 kilometres away, make for one of the coolest wine-making regions in the Cape. Cool breezes from Antarctica, mild summers, frost-free winters, sun-facing slopes and a duplex soil structure make for a unique terroir that is ideally suited to the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals, for which the Walker Bay region is renowned.

Heaven doesn’t only meet earth here. Bouchard Finlayson blends ancient with modern, whether in origin or viticulture or viniculture or conservation or architecture. The vineyard was established in 1989 by Paul Bouchard (from Burgundy in France) and local wine-maker Peter Finlayson. The 22 hectares of vines – more than half dedicated to Pinot Noir but with some rare European varietals too – are grown using the Burgundian approach of high density planting with low yields from individual vines. Leaf exposure is encouraged and root growth restricted to improve fruit concentration. The ‘double Guyot’ system of vine trellising is used that further concentrates the raw material for wine-making.

The wines are made using old and new techniques, both concrete and stainless steel tanks together with French oak barrels. Conservation is a high priority with indigenous vegetation having been removed from most of the 122 hectare estate. Small amounts remain for research purposes only. Modern, sustainable practices are employed to give Bouchard Finlayson environmental accreditation. The homestead even blends traditional Cape Dutch with modern architecture in its design.

This obvious care, passion and attention to detail follow through to the award-winning wines. Amore welcomed me into the elegant Burgundy-style Tasting Room, my eyes taking time to get accustomed to the subdued lighting from the bright autumn sunshine outside. I opted for the R40 tasting (6 wines) rather than the R20 (3 wine) offering as time just allowed before closing. I preferred the higher priced Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (containing 14% Sémillon) to the single variety Sauvignon Blanc with its greater breadth and complexity of warm tropical fruitiness that finely balanced the citrus notes. I bought a bottle of the latter for the Society tasting of Elgin and Hermanus wines on 18 May.

The ‘Sans Barrique’ Chardonnay scored equally high, as the stewed fruit aromas, unchanged by oak, followed through to a creamy mouth feel on the palate. By comparison, the wooded Crocodile’s Lair Chardonnay – made also from grapes behind the village of Villiersdorp high in the Elandskloof Mountains and 80 kilometres from Hermanus – was more towards pale gold than pale straw in colour, smooth in texture, and with added caramel and nougat aromas on the nose.

The red wines sampled were from the top of the Bouchard Finlayson range, save for the R892 Tête de Cuvée Galpin Peak Pinot Noir that was not for tasting. The more moderately priced (R329) Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, though outside my budget for today, was my favourite wine of the tasting. A multiple award-winner, together with 5 Platter stars, it was all a Pinot Noir should be: classic deep pink to pale ruby in colour; dark sour plum and red cherry on the nose; dry with crisp tannins and pepper blackberry flavours on the palate.

It was a shame that the final wine of the tasting – the Hannibal Italian/French blend – did not work for me. I applaud the creativity for this unusual varietal mix and rated it highly but I just didn’t enjoy it. I could taste the herby earthiness of the Italian grapes with the flinty, sweet spicy fruitiness of the French cultivars. It may have been a marriage of varieties too far for me or simply too young (2015 vintage) to drink now. Dry tannins were too forward on the palate which spoiled an otherwise good balance for my taste.

Amore was kind enough to let me overstay my welcome and to see the cellar as she tidied the Tasting Room before closing. Bouchard Finlayson is a vineyard I recommend to visit. The quality wines obviously benefit from the high attention to detail and care in their making, from terroir selection through viticulture to the wine-making process itself. The Burgundy style too makes for a refreshing change to the heavier Bordeaux-style wines so prevalent in the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek vineyards elsewhere in the Cape. The red and white wines challenge the single variety and blended wines from Hamilton Russell and Ashbourne for quality and, being lower priced, give good value for money.

In sum, Bouchard Finlayson wines are indeed from where heaven meets earth.

Wines tasted (bought *):

White:

2016 Sauvignon Blanc – R117* 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (86% Sauvignon Blanc, 14% Sémillon) – R151
2015 Sans Barrique Unwooded Chardonnay – R140
2015 Crocodile’s Lair/Kaaimansgat Chardonnay – R151

Red:

2013 Galpin Peak Pinot Noir – R329 FAVOURITE WINE
2015 Hannibal Italian/French Blend (46% Sangiovese, 18% Pinot Noir, 16% Nebbiolo, 11% Shiraz, 5% Barbera, 4% Mouvèdre) – R286

You Might Also Like

The Vineyard Hotel a Classic Vehicle to Showcase L’Ormarins Wines

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Wines to Love on Love Street

Iconic Steenberg

Great Value in the Swartland

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

More Still at Tanagra

Well Hosted and Enjoyable – Even Though I did not Experience at its Best

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Heaven and Earth Create a Costly Pairing

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Beyond Expectation

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Taint, Mould, Sweet-Sour, Elastoplast, Stale Honey, Bee Wax and Potato Skin With the Wine Prof

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Good Things Come in Twos – at Southern Right too!

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Virgin Whites Led Me into the Last Temptation

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Red Chair in the Morning

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Two Dam Good!

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

It’s High Time Again

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Mutual Attraction

0 Comments

  1. Two Dam Good! – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] journey from Cape Town had been a little rushed (Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson close at 1pm on Saturdays) but no less a pleasure. I could not quite believe that I had not […]

  2. Heaven and Earth Create a Costly Pairing – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] blended together into a complete sentence as I made my way from tastings at Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson to the top of the Hemel-en-Aarde (Afrikaans for ‘Heaven and Earth’) valley above Walker Bay. […]

  3. Serenity in the Chapel without Worry or Preoccupation – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] for an equally beautiful and intimate setting. A day in the Valley to taste the Hamilton Russell, Bouchard Finlayson and Creation wines gave plenty of time to appreciate that Hemel-en-Aarde is Afrikaans for ‘Heaven […]

  4. Virgin Whites Led Me into the Last Temptation – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] at the back of the Tasting Rom. The view was glorious and impressive, overlooking vines from Bouchard Finlayson and Hamilton Russell, not from the farm. La Vierge grows its vines on 44 hectares some 7 kilometres […]

  5. Learning about Wines with the Cape Wine Lovers is Super Cool – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] Elgin Ridge in the Elgin Valley, together with the tastings at Southern Right, Hamilton Russell, Bouchard Finlayson, La Vierge, Sumaridge, Ataraxia and Creation in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. There’s more to visit […]

  6. Mutual Attraction – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] taste but a fraction. I decided largely to avoid the vineyards I have visited and enjoyed – Bouchard Finlayson, Buitenverwachting, Cape Point Vineyards, Constantia Uitsig, Delheim, DeMorgenzon, Diemersdal, […]

  7. The Early Bird Catches the Wine – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] on the wall of a vineyard entrance gate always promises something special. Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson come to mind with their elegant, refined, quality wines in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. It speaks of […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *