Friday 12 May 2017
Experience: 3/5 (Tasting Room closed)
The Hamilton Russell dynasty does things in pairs. Hamilton Russell vineyards grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and produce 2 single variety Estate wines only. Ashbourne Wines, that border the Hamilton Russell property to the East and founded by Anthony Hamilton Russell in 1996, produces just 2 wines too. Both are specialist blends: one Sauvignon Blanc-led and the other Pinot Noir-led (the Sandstone white blend is set to be discontinued).
Southern Right also produces just 2 wines: a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinotage. The 448 hectare property borders Hamilton Russell vineyards to the South-West and too was established (in 1994) by Anthony Hamilton Russell. The farm is a mere 2 kilometres from the ocean and the cool Walker Bay that is visited by the rare Southern Right whales that give the vineyard its name.
The Tasting Room was closed due to staff illness and so I had to double back up the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley to Hamilton Russell for tasting. I would have liked to have seen inside the Cellar and Tasting Room but the drive was short and so I was little inconvenienced. Few vineyards are bold enough to make 2 wines – Silvermist Organic Vineyard is the only other one that comes to mind – and the Southern Right wines scored highly.
I preferred, and bought, the Sauvignon Blanc. The wine showed excellent balance and complexity – and, notably, a firm, smooth, rounded finish – that is rare to find in a youthful 2016 vintage. The palest straw in colour and very watery in appearance, it packed on the nose. Green citrus aromas of lemon and lime balanced those of light grass and herbs.
The Pinotage was silky bright and deep pink to pale ruby in colour with a splash of purple. It could easily have been mistaken in appearance for a Pinot Noir. Fruity yet spicy – dark, unripe plums together with white to dark peppercorns – this wine had its own distinct character. I liked how the dry acidity balanced the integrated tannin. There are, frankly, so many poor quality Pinotage that I rarely find one I like. This was an exception and, but for my budget for the day, I could easily have bought a bottle.
Much as I like to sample a broad range of wine at a tasting, it is pleasant sometimes to experience a tasting that is less involved. Southern Right shows, like the neighbouring Hamilton Russell vineyards, that quality can be achieved without quantity. Good things, after all, come in pairs ……
Wines tasted (bought *):
2016 Sauvignon Blanc – R99*
2016 Pinotage – R225 FAVOURITE WINE