As someone who attempts to blog about their full-time hobby while holding down a full-time (unrelated) job, I’m the first to admit writing when you’re working 10-12 hour days is pretty tough at times. As a wine lover with the occasional opportunity to attend really exceptional events, I’m stubborn about putting content I care about out there, even if it is a couple of weeks after the fact. The Wine Concepts Burgundy Lover’s Festival is one of those events. I was aiming for a more constructive, informative and generally well composed piece, but in truth I adore Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir stole my heart years ago, so my analytical mind shut down shortly after the first drop of heavenly liquid hit my glass. For this round, I’ll leave the proper wine reviewing aside for a bit and just run through some of the more interesting and downright divine finds of the evening.
Knowing where my favourite wines were to be found and also which new ones wanted to try, I plunged into the fray randomly, approaching the first stand with a gap for me to fill my glass. This led me to Lothian Vineyards. I found their Chardonnay to be perfectly pleasant, hints of melon and lime and the most delicate touch of oak. Their Pinot Noir is well balanced, a mouthful of strawberry with a hint of tobacco on the other end of the spectrum.
The next new find was Winters Drift. Also from the Elgin Valley, I’ve seen the label around but had never tried their wines. The Chardonnay is very nice, smooth and lightly wooded with a honeydew fresh taste and good, soft acidity. The Pinot Noir is quite fruity, light and drinkable.
With great anticipation, I made my way to the Springfield stand to indulge in my longstanding love affair with their Wild Yeast and Methode Ancienne Chardonnay. Upon arrival, I was surprised to see they had a Pinot Noir on offer. I’m a great proponent of out-of-character wines in terms of styles, cultivars and where they are grown and made, but even so I wasn’t expecting a Pinot Noir (typically better suited to cooler areas) from Robertson, where summers can be merciless. I was delighted to find a sexy Pinot Noir in that bottle, slightly more muted and less fresh and fruity than others but with lots going on and lots to appreciate.
It was shortly after my stop at the Springfield station that I stopped taking pictures, finding conversing with my companions while discussing the exquisite wines far too consuming to keep snapping away with my phone. Other more than notable mentions include Vriesenhof, Creation (both their Pinot Noir and Reserve Pinot Noir are excellent) and Ataraxia (they had a sort of micro-flighted tasting, with their 2010 and 2013 Chardonnay available for tasting, a solid indication of what the younger wine could potentially grow into).
My absolute top finds of the evening were without question the Richard Kershaw Wines Chardonnay and both the Crystallum and Craven Wines Pinot Noirs. The Kershaw Chardonnay stops you dead in your tracks. A more composed, elegant and truly beautiful Chardonnay I have never encountered. Exquisitely wooded, complex fruit and a grounded character that invites you to just finish the bottle and make sure you pack a case in the car to take hom.
The Crystallum Pinot Noir is the stuff of dreams. If you love Pinot Noir, this is the one to seek out. And the Craven Wines Pinot Noir is magnificently exciting, a breath of fresh air from the seemingly new trend of “Young Guns” winemakers on the SA wine scene. Incredibly wine makers doing fantastically exciting things, shaking up the wine scene and producing tastebud-blowing stuff.
I’ll say it again. I love Chardonnay and I adore Pinot Noir. The Burgundy Lover’s festival was a treat, well organised and presented by the team from Wine Concepts. And if Sauvignon is more your thing, then you should keep an eye on their website for the Seductive Sauvignon festival coming up in September. It promises to be a spectacular collection of the best Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon around. I’m saving the date.