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Crystallum The Agnes Chardonnay 2021 £24.99
CRYSTALLUM THE AGNES CHARDONNAY
This small winery was established in 2007 by brothers Peter-Allan and Andrew Finlayson their father, Peter, was a pioneer in the production of cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Bouchard Finlayson, so after university, it seemed the natural thing for the boys to return home and source some fruit from the Hemel-en-Aarde valley to start their own label. Crystallum is now one of the most highly regarded wineries in South Africa, yet the Finlaysons are determined to make even better wines. Peter-Allan has sourced fruit from some new vineyards, while winemaking has evolved. All of the wines are now wild fermented and new oak has been reduced to help the bright fruit shine through.
'The Agnes' Chardonnay is produced from five different vineyards in the Hemel-en-Aarde and Overberg regions. The soils of these vineyards range from heavy clay to shale, sandstone and quartz. The final blend retains the characteristics of these individual sites, combining them to produce a wine that is both unique and greater than the sum of its parts.
Healthy winter rainfall began to replenish water reserves in the soil and sustained the vines through the growing season. Cooler conditions in the lead up to harvest were beneficial. The grapes underwent a perfectly paced slow and steady ripening and were harvested with concentrated flavours balanced by fresh natural acidity. However, 2020 was still affected by the preceding drought years. This meant the vines were only just starting to recover fully and resulted in low yields. Despite this, Peter-Allan was “very happy with the quality and elegance” of the 2020 vintage.
'The Agnes' was produced using the traditional method of transferring the whole grape clusters straight from harvesting into the press and running the juice off into a settling tank. The juice was then transferred the next day into 228-litre French oak barrels, 10% of which were new. Fermentation occurred naturally in barrel, where it remained for nine months before bottling.
The 2020 vintage is both a fuller-bodied and more exotic vintage than its predecessor. Lifted aromas of white peach, papaya, jasmine and lemongrass entice on the nose. Its rich texture and mouthfeel are cut by a stony, saline spine that refreshes the palate. Notes of butterscotch and lemon curd are complemented by the wine’s bright acidity and long finish.