In an interview I did for Fine Music Radio with Danie de Wet of De Wetshof Wine Estate recently, he spoke of the increasing popularity of Unwooded Chardonnay where consumers were discovering the real joys of the grape and its fabulous fruit. Apart from his iconic De Wetshof Chardonnays and those of the Danie de Wet Range, Danie, now assisted by his son Peter in the cellar, and Johann with marketing, produced a Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend called Limelight. It caught the Limelight [forgive the pun] and became very popular in this style of blend that unites the two great grapes of Burgundy and Champagne, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is over 1,000 years older than that other well-known French grape Cabernet Sauvignon, a relative Johnny-come-lately that developed in the 1700s in the freshly drained, courtesy of the Dutch, swamps of Bordeaux. Interesting that in their book Wine Grapes, Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz claim that after DNA analysis, Pinot Gris [French] Pinot Grigio [Italian for the same grape] and Pinot Blanc are all colour variations of Pinot Noir.
Chardonnay too is a crossing of Pinot Noir and an almost extinct grape known as Gouais Blanc. So this is why you find Pinot Noir and Chardonnay so happy around each other.
Now the Limelight range has been extended to include a single variety Pinot Noir and an Unwooded Chardonnay, to introduce those already keen Limelight fans to these classic Burgundian varieties in a fruit driven, easy drinking style – and a steal at the shelf price.
Limelight Pinot Noir 2012
Picked in the early hours of the day while the vineyards are still cool from the night helps to retain the rich aromas and complex flavours of this special grape. Destemmed, the grapes are taken to stainless steel tanks for a few days for what is known as cold soaking. This starts the extraction of colour and flavour. Fermentation takes place and once completed, the wine is taken to French Oak Barrels, specially selected to support the fresh fruit and other flavours in the wine during the process of malolactic fermentation and maturation. A friendly alcohol of 13% and an even-handed price on the shelf, over-delivering at a recommended retail price of R60.
It looks like: almost opaque in the glass, cherry coloured.
It smells like: Crisp red berries and cherries and a whisper of forest floor after spring rain.
It tastes like: Classic Pinot Noir – rich, complex, easily accessible, a generous wash of bright crisp fruit right up front, cashmere scarf smooth tannins and a wave of toasted hazelnut in the elegant aftertaste. Chill it before drinking for added pleasure.
It’s good with: Confit duck leg with a berry sauce. It is magical with sushi as we discovered while drinking it. Seared Tuna with sesame oil, finely grated ginger and garlic with a touch of soy in the pan.
Limelight Unwooded Chardonnay 2013
Picked, and for the same reasons, like the Pinot Noir, in the early hours of the day in order to capture the wonderful aromas and flavours of this classic grape. Assisted by De Wetshof’s soils, so rich in limestone, already leaving its mark on the grape before the age-old tradition of winemaking even begins. The grapes are destemmed, pressed and taken to stainless steel tanks for overnight settling. Once fermented dry, the wine lies on its lees to develop the full broad plate for which Chardonnay is known. During this time, regular batonnage takes place, the stirring of the wine, classically with a wooden baton, which adds so much flavour with the expired yeast cells being stirred up into the wine. 12% alcohol by volume and the same even handed pricing, and over delivery, as the Pinot Noir.
It looks like: Gem bright pale gold straw in colour with lime green flashes around the edges when you hold the glass up to the light.
It smells like: Pink grapefruit, ripe white-fleshed peaches and the fullness of winter melon.
It tastes like: Layers of windfall citrus, hazelnuts, and nectarines. Complex and in perfect balance, the fruit, the acidity and the aftertaste all singing in harmony.
It’s good with: Delicately flavoured oriental foods, gentle Kerala vegetable curry, tuna and salmon sashimi with ponzu.
Read more about De Wetshof – CLICK HERE.