Pinot Noir Times predicted last year that 2013 is going to be a big year for South African pinot noir wines. Three 2013 have been tasted and if it is an indication of what the vintage is going to produce, we are all in for fabulous drinking experience in the near future. The three wines tasted so far were Hamilton Russell, Crystallum's Peter Max and Ataraxia.
It must be stated that is was with great anticipation that the first releases of the 2013 vintage was awaited. That is would be so soon, after bottling, came as a big surprise. So far it seems that Hamilton Russell, Bouchard Finlayson, Haute Carbiere, Radford Dale, Ataraxia, Crystallum, Creation, Groote Post, Winter's Drift, Peter Falke, Paul Cluver and Stark Conde have released their 2013 vintages. The size of the harvest will of course attract other estates to try their hand, the most notable being Klein Constantia with a release of Elgin grapes.
The proof is in the pudding however.
The first tasting was the Ataraxia. And from the first meeting it was clear that this vintage was from a different calibre. The colour was clear , nearly crystal-like but dark nevertheless. The nose was pure French SIAG= that was so pleasurable that one lingered a moment or two before actually tasting it. The first taste sensation was so smooth that one hardly could think that it is only a year old. Soft tannins, mild acidity introduced a broad spectrum of tastes sensations - from forest floor to dark cherries and a hint of butterscotch, rushed through one's palette. One had to pause a while to get your breath back, before the next mouthful was tasted. No question of spitting here - this was far to good!
This is a good vintage and the only question is, how it will mature? The low tannins indicate it will be ready very soon and may not mature that well. However the depth what was tasted promise a wine that will mature well.
The Hamilton Russell was even better than the Ataraxia. Everything was the same - just more intense. It was smoother and produced a broader spectrum of tastes and it maintained the solidity that one associates with this label. The best Hamilton Russell tasted so far and from an already prolific pinot noir maker this is a serious statement.
The Crystallum Peter Max was not so sensational as the other two but, only for the reason that it demonstrated more tannins and acidity and was therefore less smooth. The rest of its attributes were excellent with the prediction that it will probably mature better than the other two.
What was remarkable was a sense of similarity between the wines although they were tasted on different occasions. They were all from the Hemel-en-Aarde valley but the previous vintages have not demonstrated the sameness as the 2013 one. Is it possible that we are moving towards a more uniform typical South African pinot noir taste?
Can't wait to taste the rest of the labels.
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