Cape Town - South Africa is a wine-lovers playground. Vast and diverse, just looking at a map of all the gorgeous vineyard and farms of the winelands begging for your attention can leave you feeling slightly overwhelmed by where to begin.
Well, if you're a keen chardonnay drinker, then established wine critic Christian Eede has just simplified things for you with his 2014 Top 10 chardonnay report.
Eedes revealed his fourth report - produced in conjunction with wealth management firm, Sanlam Private Wealth - at a gathering of wine lovers at Thornton Whites in the Foreshore in Cape Town.
A total of 60 wines were tasted and judged by a panel led by Eedes, including renowned tasters Roland Peens and James Pietersen from Wine Cellar, to finally arrive at the sophisticated top 10.
So what better way to celebrate the top-end of what Eedes has described as ‘the wine with a universal following – arguably the best dry white wine in the world’ than by plotting your weekend cavorts around these award-winning estates?
Four of the producers in this year’s top 10 have achieved success consistently, with Uva Mira, Hartenberg, Haskell Anvil and Paul Cluver setting a definitive Chardonnay benchmark.
With seven out of the Top 10 Chardonnay hailing from the spectacular Stellenbosch region, may we suggest splitting it up over two weekends or so, interspersed with visits to the gorgeous Elgin Wine Valley, The Hermel-en-Aarde wine route in Hermanus as well as the gastronomic food and wine pairing capital of Franschhoek.
Here are the Christian Eedes Top Ten Chardonnay wine producers to check-out:
1. Hartenberg The Eleanor 2012
2. Uva Mira2013
Christiaan Coetzee, Winemaker and manager of Uva Mira says, “I believe Matt Kramer said it bes, ‘Great wines taste like they come from somewhere. You can’t fake somewhereness. You can’t manufacture it…but when you taste a wine that has it, you know.’ The views of Cape Town from the estate's restaurant are also otherworldly.
Four and a half stars:
3. Chamonix Reserve 2013
Home to some of the highest planted vineyards in the Cape, this Franschhoek estate was acquired by German-born entrepreneur and adventurer Chris Hellinger two decades ago - it has seen some extensive changes and now boasts a host of culinary options and a private game reserve for those wanting something a bit more.
Also set in Stellenbosch, take the opportunity to explore this working wine-farm as you indulge in al fresco dining, fly fishing, vineyard walks, or spend a night in their lodge. “Our vines flourish in such a unique and striking setting, framed by the Helderberg Mountains in the background, False Bay fanning from the side, and Table Mountain in the distance....a true reflection of our favourable Terroir," says winemaker Nico Grobler.
5. Grand Vin de Glenelly 2013
The Glenelly Estate is in the Ida's Valley on the southern slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain. Its origins date back to the seventeenth century when Simon van der Stel, Governor of the Cape, gave the land to the Huguenot François Villion.
6. Haskell Anvil 2012
Found on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain in the Golden Triangle, the philosophy at this Vineyard's signature restaurant is, "a place where unpretentious, authentic, flavoursome food can be enjoyed in a relaxing and convivial environment, together with a concise but creative wine list, with Haskell and Dombeya wines (subject to availability) as well as a few mysterious, limited release imported wines to satisfy those looking for a touch of adventure in their dining experience". Can you resist?
7. Longridge 2013
First registered in 1841, Longridge began its commercial wine production in 1992, favouring age-old traditions of “natural winemaking’’ and respect for the land. Once here your wine tastings can turn into leisurely lunches, with visits to see the hardworking cows and ducks offering some child-friendliness into the mix.
8. Newton Johnson Southend 2013
This family owned wine farm is the perfect day-trip destination, while based in the seaside town of Hermanus famous for its whale-watching. Committed to the natural wine making processes their wine reflects "the cooler climate appellations in which the grapes are grown and account for elegant, mineral, supple and complex characters in the wine".
Also see: Bottoms up in Hermanus
9. Paul Cluver 2013
Found in the magical Elgin Valley, this vineyard has been in the Cluver family since 1896. Its wine production in fact forms part of a wider farming business called ‘De Rust Estate', which includes a number of eco-tourism activities such as its MB trails and an amphitheatre that is a popular summer venue - see upcoming event details here.
#day17 #onemonthofgratitude this is what I did this morning. After no #exercise for 6 months, my dad casually invites me for an easy ride at #paulcluver turned out to be a nice 3 hour ride. Let's just say with a #view like this I didn't hate it. I just might not be able to move for a few days. #fisheye #iphone #iphonography #mtb #bike #wheredidyourbiketakeyoutoday
10. Stellenrust Barrel Fermented 2013
Stellenrust has been producing quality wines since the late 1920s, stretching across the Golden Triangle area of Stellenbosch, with the Bottelary Hills. Its cool climate and late afternoon sea breezes are said to be perfect for nurturing both excellent white and red wines. Also, the wine farm allows the novel experience of stomping your own grapes to make your own wine - you can even add your own logo.
For further information, or to download the full report, visit Sanlam Private Wealth or Winemag.co.za.