Crush – 100 South African Wines to drink now, #10, Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay 2017…

Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay 2017

I recently spent some time with Richard Kershaw tasting one on one through some of his wines. What a great treat. I am a great believer that I learn something new each day. Wine changes on a daily basis, techniques both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Richard Kershaw knows his vineyards, his soils, his clones, matching clones to oak and and and… One of the wines, I enjoyed tasting was his Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay 2017. Made from Dijon clones, CY96, CY95, CY76 and the Entav Clone CY 548. The vineyards are all situated in the Elgin Wine Appellation.

Richard Kershaw, MW

South Africa’s coolest [both in climate and fashion] wine region, Elgin has high altitude, ocean proximity, very specific cloud cover, high cold units, a large diurnal range, which all help to show the sense of place in these wines. In a year of the worst drought in living memory, the weather was cool enough in the winter of 2016 to allow a good period of dormancy. Smaller berries on lighter bunches were produced, with great concentration of fruit with excellent acidity. The grapes were handpicked early in the autumn mornings into small baskets and were whole bunch pressed recovering a low juice of 590 litres per ton. Fermentation was spontaneous using the natural vineyard yeasts, malolactic fermentation was discouraged. After a four-month rest on the lees in the barrel, the wine was gently sulphured and then spent a further 11 months in French oak barrels from Burgundy. Richard chose a small number of artisanal coopers, all of whom were from Burgundy and only French Oak was used. 38% of the oak was new, and the balance was made up of 2nd and 3rd fill barrels both 228 and 500 litres in size. Interestingly 10% of the wine was left to ferment and mature in breathable egg-shaped fermenters.

Chardonnay in the morning sun

From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is simple elegant and descriptive. In the glass, the wine is a pale golden straw in colour. The aromas are reticent to reveal themselves, though given a while, with your nose deep in the glass you pick up the cooked rolled oats, ripe fleshed white peaches, winter melon and an undertow of windfall citrus. The mouth is full from entry through a generously fruited mid-palate through into the aftertaste into which the oak, the fruit and the acidity are interwoven into perfect harmony, gently waning. This is so accessible now, but given a couple of years of cool cellaring, it will reward you amply.

My Chicken cooked under a Brick

A food wine par excellence. Do not serve it too cold for full enjoyment. A truly deeply delicious wine like this, in my opinion, enjoys simple food, like a perfectly butter roasted chicken on your French grandmother’s kitchen table. My Chicken cooked under a Brick, an Italian dish called Sotto Mattone. Click HERE for my recipe.

Read more about Kershaw Wines – CLICK HERE


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