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False Bay Chardonnay
False Bay Chardonnay

Country of Origin: South Africa

Region: Western Cape

Grape Varieties: Chardonnay

Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%

Food Matches: Serve with roast chicken, pasta and creamy sauce or grilled tiger prawns.

Special Features: Vegan

Price: £7.49

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Tasting Notes: Unoaked Chardonnay with the weight to match an array of rich foods. Classy Chardonnay with flinty minerality and great purity and restraint. A citrus core with ripe apple, pear and delicate tropical notes, produces a wine with great poise. Extended time on the lees adds nutty and toasty notes. Intense yet delicate right through to the finish.

Producer Details: Established by Paul Boutinot, False Bay Vineyards is a company that has grown out of many years of involvement in South Africa, which began at a time when their wines and potential was just being recognised. With knowledge and respect within the South African wine industry, Paul Boutinot has been able to source top quality grapes for the re-launch of False Bay. First discovered by sailors confusing it for Table Bay to the north, False Bay has long been a haven for those navigating the treacherous Cape of Good Hope. The cool coastal breeze which sweeps off the Indian Ocean temper the ripening process, extend the growing season and produce expressive wines with more precise varietal characters and purity. These lifted aromas make the wines accessible, perfectly balanced and full flavoured.

In The Vineyard: Someone once said that good commercial Chardonnay is a bit like Bill Clinton, big & round with an open countenance, a reassuring handshake and a look in his eyes which says “I care”. You know it is all a bit insincere, but you are willingly seduced. The obvious toasty oak and ripe tropical fruit usually have instant appeal. The problem with those big, obvious flavours is that one soon tires of them. Many evolve quickly into sickly, flabby and oxidative wines. False Bay Chardonnay aims to retain enough of the immediate charm, but aspires to be more serious, more fine and complex. The problem was to get from A (where we were perceived to be very good producers of very good but commercially orientated Chardonnay in the Coastal areas) to B, where False Bay would be breaking new ground with grapes from grapes lesser known areas capable of producing wines of elegance, grace & finesse. Their winemaker, Werner Engelbrecht, before joining False Bay Vineyards in 2004, worked extensively as a viticulturist & winemaker in the greater Robertson Area. It took two years to agree that is not only the cooler coastal areas that deliver, but if you plant the right clone in the right spot and restrict yield, then Chardonnay starts to become something totally different. Apart from those instantly seductive typical lemony, creamy flavours that it normally develops, they have found a pronounced minerality (for us the holy grail of truly fine wines), from some vineyards in the Robertson area. In their experience the practice of leaving white wines on the lees for an extended period, is also complimented if the wine had some agree of flintiness. Wines crafted in this manner will eventually exhibit oatmeal, cookie-dough yeastiness, without the added complexity overshadowing the pure fruit.
It was not easy to identify these vineyards, in selecting them they had to differentiate between the impact of origin, rather than winemaking technique itself. It seemed to them that the more hostile and unforgiving the terroir was, the more minerality shone through. These soils seemed to have another thing in common, being high in lime, similar to the soils of Burgundy & Sancerre. They appreciated that they needed to have some concentration in the wines and on the whole they found that vineyards on the clay banks of the rivers criss-crossing the area , provided this element. The resulting blend gave wines with enough structure and body, but still with a very recognizable mineral core.

In The Winery: Grapes were harvested at 23.5 degrees Balling in early February. Harvesting was done only in the early morning. De-stemming took place and the juice separated from skins using a bag press. Settling took place overnight at a temperature of approx 12 degrees C. The clear juice was inoculated and fermented for almost 4 weeks at a temperature of
approx 15 degrees C. After fermentation, it was left on the primary lees for another month in order to add more weight and complexity to the wine. It was sulphured and racked from the lees when it started to show reductive flavours.

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