Monday, February 04, 2019

Hemel en Aarde Valley Pinot Noir Celebration Part Four. Exploring the 2017 Hemel en Aarde Pinot vintage

The afternoon and evening programme
Nidderdale farm in the heat of the afternoon; we all returned from our various winery visits at 1.30
The shed in which our happy servers were based
Helping the chefs get ready for the next buffet
Chef Dre Johnson with her colleague Tossie van Rensburg and a member of their team
Figs stuffed with Parma ham
and figs stuffed with goat’s cheese and nuts
Deep fried bobotie spring rolls
Slices of Pissaladière
and, just in case we needed feeding before the next tasting, more farm style canapés
Jean-Claude Martin with Annemie Apffelstaedt from Belgium
Heading back into the marquee
The servers get the wines chilled and the glasses ready. We could taste wines from the valley with the canapés
A tray of crudités for those needing vegetables
And a help-yourself cheese stool
Biltong a-plenty
Remington Norman, JC Martin, Michele Guttler and her husband, Professor Peter Roos
Many familiar faces in the crowd; some people could only come for one day as business on Friday prevented a two day visit
All geared for the next tasting, which was titled "Taking Flight". We explored the new 2017 vintage from the three wards
The wines would be presented by Remington Norman, Jan “Boland” Coetzee and Roland Peens
We take our seats. Such lovely proteas dress each table
and Craig starts us off
Remington Norman spoke of international trends for Pinot Noir which is HOT! or is that Cooool. This grape gives something no other variety can, finesse. He said that "The Valley produces good entry level Pinot Noirs, so you want to go on to something else." Was his implication bigger and better? He told us that the price of a good Burgundy was £500 10 years ago. It is now £40,000
As a real time postscript to Remington's comment, the British restaurant wine blog Wine List Confidential said, last October, "There seem to be complaints in the on-trade that it’s increasingly difficult to put Burgundy on a list at a decent price, so a simple Bourgogne Rouge is often £40-£50 a bottle and any ‘village’ wine a lot more unless it comes from somewhere less fashionable such as the Côte Chalonnaise. Here’s an idea; in the quest to give one’s customers value for money, stick a Hemel-en-Aarde or Elgin Pinot or Chardonnay on the list for the same amount instead. Not only should a sommelier not fear that these wines don’t age (they do), but in a vintage such as 2017 they are arguably finer, more worthy wines than basic Burgundy”
Roland Peens taking note
He thinks it is too early for the Valley to mark out wards and terroirs. Tasting notes don't matter, structure and balance does. Ripe tannins, freshness, acidity, vibrancy, limpid, poised balanced and lively wine, like a ballerina, silky, a wine of contemplation, look at its elements and finesse, sensual, heavy extraction, energy, indefinable, thrilling and intensity without weight were all descriptions of (perfect?) Pinot that he gave
Kevin Grant listens
Time to start the tasting and each winemaker introduced his wine as we tasted it
The Hemel en Aarde winemakers
Norma Ratcliffe
Chris Albrecht of Bouchard Finlayson. Galpin Peak 2017 Pinot Noir. On the nose wet dog, with crisp fruit, some perfume, incense and talc dust. On the palate sweet fruit, warm and spicy, nice chalky tannins giving good structure with some savoury notes. Built to last
Werner Pretorius. Sumaridge 2017 Pinot Noir has violets and a little wet dog, light fruit rhubarb and mulberries o the nose. Soft fruit, lovely flavours, good structure with biting tannins, some ceylon tea umami, cherries and shy wood
Corlea Fourie of Bosman Family Vineyards. The Wine Club Pinot Noir 2017 is so impressive, fruit and elegance with shy wood on the nose. Sweet fruit lots of finesse, length, depth its is structured. Chalky tannins, cherry berry and the tannins remain on the palate with savoury flavours. Built to last
Reino Thiart of Whalehaven. Conservation Coast Pinot Noir 2017 is complex on the nose, quite dense and showing a bit of Cabernet fruit. Sweet, slightly oily fruit, liquorice and sweet cherry almost boiled sweets, quite dense in structure and tannins
Hannes Storm makes wine in all of the three wards, and we tasted each of these Pinot Noirs. Storm Wines Vrede Pinot Noir 2017 from Hemel and Aarde Valley has berries first on the nose with charm and it is perfumed with roses. Lighter fruit, soft tannins, fresh acidity, good structure, it has it all to last
Ignis 2017 from Upper Hemel and Aarde Valley is umami on the nose, almost soy sauce, then dark cherry and vanilla. Umami savoury liquorice and soy on the palate then some dark berry fruit, warm with some chalk on the end
The Storm Ridge Pinot Noir 2017 has Armani floral perfume on the nose; the berry fruit is not all ripe, warmth, length, chewy chalky tannin, not enough showing, the wine is resting, yet may change
Gordon Newton Johnson. Family Vineyards 2017 Pinot Noir from 16 year old vineyards, has a red velvet nose, pretty fruit, with perfumed raspberries. Soft fruit on the palate, more elegant than others in the area, not as sweet, more structured, more balanced ripeness and good fruit, lovely soft chalky tannins, and wood on the end with some umami
Craig Wessels, Restless River 2017 Pinot Noir is lightly perfumed with raspberries, quite pretty. Sweet fruit, dark wood, chalky grippy tannins, not too complex, made with natural yeast and no punch downs
Nadia Newton Johnson talking to Remington Norman
A smiling Nadia; she shares the winemaking with her husband Gordon at Newton Johnson
One of the flights. We could definitely see the similarity of terroir on the wines from the Hemel and Aarde Valley
Johan Wegner of Get Wine and, behind him, Hylton Appelbaum of De Morgenzon
JC Martin. Creation Emma's 2017 Pinot Noir. On the nose, dark fruit, velvet, incense wood and some tea
Intense dark fruit in layers, grippy tannins, long length and tight. Made to go a long way
Christo Kotze of La Vierge with the 2017 Pinot Noir. Ripe berries on the nose, with some banana. The wine is headier and heavier than most of the Pinots, lots of depth with some red berry fruit, and some chalk and salt on the end. A bit confused about its identity
Kevin Grant makes two Pinots, both on the Ridge
His own Ataraxia 2017 has tea and morello cherry on the perfumed nose. The wine has tension and balance and deliciousness. It is savoury with good mature fruit and good structure. The good tannin, fruit, acid and wood balance means the wine will age very well. The package has it all and he did indeed get the dirt in the bottle
He also makes the Domaine de Dieux, which has a good nose, with sweet berry fruit, incense wood. On the palate, more good sweet berry fruit, very chalky, grippy tannins, lots of structure. It is full on. Interesting to see where it goes next
Emul Ross, winemaker at Hamilton Russell, with his colleague Berene Sauls. We tasted their 2017. Perfume, elegance, quality, dark fruit, chocolate and liquorice notes, some wood, the usual Hamilton Russell dark style of Pinot. Cherry berry fruit ending in soft tannins. It's big.. 
A view of the inside of the marquee with all the tasting tables and the winemakers on their high table
We had some time off before the evening party and the wine auction so we headed back to our accommodation in Glen Fruin. It is called Robin's Nest and is on the Onrus River as it exits the Hemel and Aarde Valley. You get to it by driving through the wine village. It is a lovely peaceful place and we were so pleased that the recent fire didn't come close. This is the view from the long balcony
which is on two floors. Ours was the room at the end

No comments: