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(2022) Only 20 barrels of this ultra-premium Chardonnay from Journey's End were produced, from a single vineyard block. Free-run juice was fermented with natural yeast in a combination of 300L and 228L French oak barrels, only 10% going through malolactic fermentation. Lees were stirred in barrel during 10 months for a rich and creamy, golden Chardonnay. There's no shortage of Brazil nut and toasty aroma, the fruit beneath quite cool with a stone fruit and pear character. In the mouth the oak and alcohol give a big, no-hold-barred flavour, but the key here is the excellent lemony acidity that slices through the nutty richness into a long finish.
(2021) From vineyards planted between 1985 and 1986, this is fermented in 228-litre French oak barrels (one third new) and aged for a further 10 months in barrel. It's a lovely style of Chardonnay that balances flinty, complex sulphide character with gently smoky notes and ripe, juicy orchard fruit. The nose has that gunflint and stone quality with a hit of vanillin oak, but fruit is bold too. On the palate a medium- to full texture and creaminess, nuttiness and savoury qualities, plus lemons and apples providing clean fruit and acidity. Quite long too, finishing with tang and vibrancy.
(2021) Last tasted January 2019 in the full Vergelegen line-up at the winery, this was a cracking Chardonnay then, and is again now. I do however feel my score should be tempered by a point or two, simply because the overtly toasty oak (that I dis not object to) still feels just a little strident in this. There is plenty of oak, vanilla and toast, spice and a pure limey fruit beneath. On the palate the butteriness of the oak again, a nice saline acid streaking through all that pithy citrus and little mid-palate fatness of more peachy fruit. Lovely - but you must like the overt oakiness.
(2019) This seemingly immortal wine was tasting fabulous at 19 years of age, and is a wine I have tasted a few times since a first tasting at Ken's winery in 2002. Then I noted "Nutty, roasted, espresso aromas," and while that lovely toast is still present, like the pungent green bean and nettle character of the young wine, it is now more subtle while the fruit is showing more peachy and ripe in a complex wine of great length and balance. If the current releases of the Reserve Chenin (effectively this wine's succesor) has the same longevity, it's a definite candidate for the cellar. This wine is not currently for sale in the UK.
(2019) Beautiful apricot and taut apple and pear, creamy, just a hint of nuttiness. Salts and minerals of acidity cutting through the fruit. The finish is lovely, the acid just hits the spot perfectly, with taut white fruit flavours and real energy.
(2019) This is 100% barrel fermented, around 50% new. Lovely golden glow and aromatics, juicy yellow apples, smoothed with cream and gentle custard, a bit of spice too. The palate is full and lush, but there’s an immediate rush of fat, ripe but focused lemon, then more pithy lemon and grapefruit fills the mouth, the acidity becomes absolutely focused through the fine creamy, lightly spicy finish.
(2019) Funky pea-pod character; not a bright pea-shoot character, but something a little more deep and vegetal from Sauvignon and Semillon. A touch of earthiness and tobacco again. The palate has a really dry, pithy lemon dryness and agility. No stockists of this listed at time of review.
(2019) Stellenbosch fruit for this release - Verdelho, Roussanne, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. Lots of fruit sweetness and ripeness, seemingly a little more traditional, but has that element of funk.
(2019) Stellenbosch fruit from a vineyard planted in 1982, and this has a lovely sense of warmth, a little toffee note, the ripeness here steps up a gear, with nectarine lusciosness as well as that lemon rind grip and plenty of zest. A multi-layered wine of great texture and flavour.
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