WHALEHAVEN, established in 1995 and the third oldest winery in the Hemel-en-Aarde area, prides itself on the quality of its library of older vintage wines, especially in its premium handcrafted reserve range called Conservation Coast.
Comprising a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Conservation Coast range is a relatively recent addition which made its debut with the 2012 vintage. Since then the wines have made waves with an impressive list of local and international accolades. Both Conservation Coast wines are made using grapes from selected vineyards in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
Wine professionals most recently selected the Conservation Coast wines at the Sommelier Awards for a second year in a row. This year, the 2014 vintages of both wines were included in the Sommeliers Selection, an honour also awarded to the 2013 Pinot Noir last year.
“The wines are cellared for at least two years before release ensuring that connoisseurs and sommeliers can purchase wines where optimal bottle aging has contributed greater flavour development,” notes Silvana Bottega, co-owner of Whalehaven Winery near Hermanus.
Conservation Coast range celebrates the Cape’s pristine Coastline
Whalehaven’s flagship Conservation Coast range celebrates the stretch of wild Cape South Coast from False Bay to Cape Agulhas, where several coastal and offshore conservancy areas offer sanctuary to indigenous fynbos flora and visiting marine life. One of the defining contributors to the quality of these cool climate, terroir-driven wines is the Hemel-en-Aarde region’s proximity to the sea in all its detailing.
The label reminds us of this important influence while the calligraphy cleverly echoes Whalehaven’s logo of a mother and baby whale.
Conservation Coast Chardonnay 2014
The Chardonnay 2014’s grapes came from 1.7 hectares of 14-year-old vines on south-facing slopes that experience an average annual rainfall of 750mm. The vineyard is exposed to ideal south-easterly winds in the spring and summer and north-westerly winds in the autumn and winter.
The soil composition is such that the vineyard can be farmed as dry land. Carefully selected in the vineyard, the grapes are whole bunch pressed before undergoing vinification. The result is a wine that is light golden in colour with notes of butterscotch and cloves on the nose.
A full-bodied mid-palate of croissant and baguette evolves into lingering minerality that leaves a refreshing orange-blossom finish. It pairs perfectly with a dish of foie gras and seafood.
A recipient of numerous awards, the wine’s 2014 vintage garnered 92 points from Tim Atkin in his 2016 South Africa Report. The 2015 vintage on pre-release tasting, received Highly Recommended from UK-based Decanter’s panel and garnered 92 points in Atkins’ Report, showing the vineyard’s consistency and potential.
Conservation Coast Pinot Noir 2014
Like the Chardonnay, the Pinot Noir grapes are both cluster and berry-sorted to increase purity and uniformity. From a multi-pass selection, which ensures the use of only the best grapes during harvest, to maturation in the finest French oak barrels, no element goes unheeded.
The Conservation Coast Pinot Noir 2014 is a wine with a garnet edge and ripe red-cherry centre. It has a light floral bouquet of lavender, red cherries and white pepper that develops into a silky mid-palate packed with flavour reminiscent of forest floor fruits and redcurrant.
The Conservation Coast Pinot Noir has an equally illustrious record. Apart from its most recent achievements at the past two Sommeliers Selection events, it received Gold for the 2012 at Concours Mondial 2013; Silver for the 2014 at the 2017 Drinks Business Global Pinot Noir Masters Tasting; and, 89 points for the 2015 vintage in Tim Atkin’s 2017 SA Report.
The 2014 vintage was made from vines that were only six years old and located on north-facing slopes, making for a promising future for this wine as the vineyard develops some age.
The full range of Whalehaven wines is available from the winery, at the entrance to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The Conservation Coast Chardonnay and Conservation Coast Pinot Noir 2014 retail for around R360 each.
Whalehaven Wines is on Twitter @Whalehavenwines and Facebook.