Jefford: Six De Wetshof wines to drink

news  %tages Jefford: Six De Wetshof wines to drinkAndrew Jefford picks his favourite South African Chardonnay wines from De Wetshof Estate and throws in a Pinot Noir and Bordeaux blend for excellent measure. Johann, Danie and Peter De WetWith Chardonnay accounting for 75% per cent of production, De Wetshof is certainly a specialist winery. It’s sited in the inland province of Robertson, so at first glance this cool climate variety may seem a surprising choice.
Robertson, though, has a fresher mean February warmth (23˚C) than both Paarl (23.2˚C) and Swartland (23.3˚C), despite lying further than the mountain chains which frame the Cape’s Coastal province; and its limestone soils are also highly propitious for Chardonnay.
‘I like that variety,’ said Danie de Wet, estate owner and who initially smuggled it into the country to bypass quarantine rules.

From smuggling to wine politics: Danie de Wet talks to Andrew Jefford in the September issue of Decanter magazine. Subscribe now.

De Wet has now been joined by sons Johann – the current chair of South Africa’s Chardonnay forum – and winemaker Peter. Peter’s own passion is for red wines, so expect to see the De Wetshof red wine offer start to rival its impressive Chardonnay range over appearance vintages.

From the archive – Jefford on Monday: Chardonnay Songs

(Editing by Chris Mercer)
Jefford’s six De Wetshof wines to try:
De Wetshof Bon Vallon Chardonnay 2014
Classic varietal warmth and freshness — benchmark Chardonnay scents, perfect for blind tasting practice. Apple, lemon, melon, peach, crème anglaise: fresh and appetising. Fresh, bright, plain and juicy on the palate; nourishing mid-palate fullness and roundness of contour, with clean fruit definition. Fruits are a small more tropical on the palate than on the nose. A tasty varietal wine. Alcohol: 13.5%
Score: 88
Drink: 2015-2018
Stockist: £9.69, £9.99 Frazier’s Wine Merchants,The Wine Reserve, £10.50 Hercules Wine Warehouse £10.50
De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2013
Fresh, leesy and pure: very classy Chardonnay scents. On the palate, this is soft, vinous, finely balanced yet gratifyingly textured, pure and long – an unwooded Chardonay (from rich limey-clay soils) of surprising finesse and amplitude. After-flavours of cheese straws and hazels. Alcohol: 13.5%
Score: 90
Drink: 2015-2020
De Wetshof The Site Chardonnay 2013
From a single site planted in 1986 on limey gravel soils. Green apple and green plum, filled out by subtle oak. The wealth and resonance of flavour is slightly reined in here, but it’s enjoyable, elegant wine nonetheless, with a graceful, subtle end. Alcohol: 12%
Score: 89
Drink: 2015-2020
Stockist: Hedonism Wines £23.75
De Wetshof Bateleur Chardonnay 2012
De Wetshof’s top Chardonnay comes from a selection of sites on rocky clay-limestone soils, and gets 12 months in French oak. It has warm, gratifying scents of lemon, plant sap, fresh cobnuts and damp earth. A core of very bright lemon fruit dominates the palate; concentrated, plain and long, with finishing vinosity, too. Alcohol 13.5%.
Score: 91
Drink: 2015-2023
Stockist: 2009 vintage D&D Wine £23.33, Four Walls Wine Companionship £24.50
De Wetshof Nature In Concert Pinot Noir 2010
Palely authentic colours, with set alight, smoky red fruits. Lively and searching flavours; excellent purity, length and Pinot classicism. It lacks, by draw a distinction, a small inner flesh and lift; wryly structured towards the end. Nonetheless pleasant drinking. Alcohol: 14%
Drink: 2015-2018
Score: 86
Stockist: 2009 vintage Four Walls Wine Companionship £19.60, £21.99
De Wetshof Louis Michel Thibault 2010
This Merlot-led Bordeaux blend is named after the architect who designed the original De Wet homestead in Cape Town, now a museum. Attractive fresh dark fresh fruits, especially plum, on the nose, with a lovely overweight fruit presence and vivacity on the palate: balanced, drinkable and lively. A small more tannic depth would add gravitas. Alcohol: 14%
Score: 89
Drink: 2015-2019
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