THE release of the latest vintage of De Wetshof Limestone Hill unwooded Chardonnay has become an annual highlight on the wine calendar. Not only is it reliably an excellent wine, but the events are always brilliant fun, set in Cape Town’s best restaurants.
This year, the venue was SeaBreeze Fish & Shell in Bree Street, chosen I should imagine because a bunch of Japanese sommeliers voted the wine as the “oyster wine of the year” in 2018. The starter, therefore, was an oyster tasting plate which everyone sucked down with delight. Except me, because I’ve recently developed a suspected allergy which I keep forgetting about. I got a prawn salad instead.
DeWetshof CEO Johann de Wet was there, of course, as he always is. The drought in the Western Cape has had an ongoing effect, but in Robertson they still get decent crops, he said. “But we learned a lot about how to manage the vineyards, and that they can actually deal with a lot less water than we thought.
“The big effect of 2019 on our wine was climate more than the water. We had a lot of heat – insane weather. The one day was 40 degrees and the next there was snow on the mountains. One of the most sensitive times in a vine’s cycle is when the stamen inseminates the stigma of the flower and that pollen is exceptionally fragile and doesn’t like any form of extreme heat or cold – and we had both, within the flowering season.”
Johann says he believes 2019 – for white wine, red wine is a “totally different” story – is going to go down as one of the best vintages we have ever had. “It reminds me a lot of the complexities and structures which are stylistically similar to 2009 but it’s a bit more elegant. I think these wines will be more interesting, and more exciting. From a winemaking point of view, we are very happy with the Chardonnays we brought in this year.”
Limestone Hill comes from four vineyards next to the cellar – high limestone and high clay concentrations in the soil. “Clay gives you structure, complexity, upfront fruit…and the chalky limestone gives you that minerality, saltiness, depth and layers in the back of the wine. It’s really nice to have these two elements present,” says Johann.
The wine is made to go with food – oysters obviously, as well as cream-based pasta dishes and light curries, roast pork and veal dishes, so it’s incredibly versatile. You can drink it right now if you must, but the patient among us will be well rewarded in coming years. At a recommended retail price of only R95, this is one you’re going to want to stock up on.
For more information on the Limestone Hill, DeWetshof and its wines, click here.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©