There are few things more pleasant for me than an afternoon with Peter Finlayson of the eponymous Bouchard Finlayson Vineyards in Hermanus. It was Peter who taught me how to cook fish in our restaurant in Hermanus. “Just undercook it and it will finish cooking on its way to the table,” he said. And it became a mantra for us on our restaurants. Peter and his wife Geta cooked some of the best seafood I have ever eaten.
So to have in invitation to taste through 5 vintages of his fabulous Tête de Cuvée Galpin Peak Pinot Noir from the 2005 to the 2010 [2008 was not part of this tasting] and that at La Colombe in Constantia was one I could not refuse.
Fascinating and utterly sublime four or so courses of Scott Kirton’s heavenly – if slightly crazy – dishes [slates. Platters, board] filled with little blobs of this, smears of that, julienne of fruit, finely chiffonaded something else, puddle of jus, everything in its place, the hero of each present in such perfection. Was lovely to be back at La Colombe where I have not dined for at least 5 years. The restaurant certainly deserves its place up there amongst the finest in the Cape.
So interesting to track the wine over those years, with fruits varying from red to black and somewhere in between with Peter describing each vintage and the reasons for certain nuances in the wines.
Bouchard Finlayson Vineyards Tête de Cuvée Galpin Peak Pinot Noir is royalty in South Africa Wine terms – and up there with a price tag of R680 from the Cellar. We tasted the princelings before lunch, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2012 Sans Barrique Chardonnay and at the table as an aperitif, the Kaaimansgat Reserve 2009.
Fabulous wines all.
Tête de Cuvée Galpin Peak Pinot Noir is Bouchard Finlayson’s Icon Wine and has been collecting awards for over a decade. The 2001 vintage won Gold at the International WINE Challenge 2003 in the UK; the 2003 release received the Winemakers’ Choice Diamond Award in 2005; while the 2006 was a Trophy Winner at the Old Mutual Trophy Awards in 2008. The 2001, 2003 and 2005 vintages were all awarded 5 stars in the John Platter Wine Guide, with the 2005 Tête de Cuvée being crowned the overall SA Wine Winner in the 2008 guide. More recently, the 2009 vintage won the Gold Medal at the Five Nations Wine Challenge 2012 in Sydney, where Bouchard Finlayson was the only South African winery to have obtained an award for Pinot Noir.
Established in 1989 in the temperate Hemel-en-Aarde Valley on 125 hectares (312 acres) of Walker Bay’s prime viticultural land, Bouchard Finlayson Vineyard and Winery is a small cellar dedicated to the quality production of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Ever since releasing their first vintages, the name Bouchard Finlayson has been internationally synonymous with excellence. Today, owned by the Red Carnation Hotels’ Tollman family and under the leadership of Victoria Tollman and winemaker Peter Finlayson, 22 hectares (54 acres) of the estate are currently under vine with 50% devoted to the varietal for which Peter is most acclaimed – Pinot Noir. Other cultivars under production include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Sangiovese, as well as a handful under exploration. Bouchard Finlayson is an accredited Championship member of the Biodiversity and Wine initiative (BWI).