March Wines of the Month: Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2009 & Raats Cabernet Franc 2007

A dynamic duo from the Cape this month, the first of which is on deal at Majestic at the mo!

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2009 (Hemel-en-Aarde Valley)

This consistently impressive South African Chardonnay was one of five Chardonnays from around the world which made the cut for the Sommelier Journal’s Top Releases of 2010.  Its tightly structured citric core, savoury lees and smoky hazelnut notes put me in mind of really good Burgundy.  This vintage weighs in at an old Old World-like 13% abv too.  A beautiful wine – cool and poised, yet deeply satisfying.  And there’s no better time to buy it.  With 20% off when you buy two bottles of any South African wine at Majestic it works out at £15.99/bottle.  Suffice to say I’ve stocked up!

Raats Cabernet Franc 2007 (Stellenbosch)

Loire lover Bruwer Raats lavishes plenty of tlc on his Cabernet Franc vines and, just as importantly, respects the variety’s delicacy in the winery.  As he’s pointed out to me in the past “with its finer tannin structure and earlier ripening at lower sugars, Cabernet Franc has the right DNA to be elegant unlike Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz.”  This vintage, which I showed at Sip & Savour’s South African lunch at Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Tamarind (reported here), chimed perfectly with our sensually spiced, perfumed lunch and, specifically, with delicately spiced boneless lamb with browned onions, ginger and Kashmiri chillies.  A glorious nose with just a hint of dried green peppercorn leads onto a finely wrought palate saturated with cinnamon and cedar-edged black cherry and juicy plum.  Subtle earthy/gamy notes are starting to develop – perfect for the lamb.  £17.50 at Oxford Wine Co or £17.99 at Naked Wines.

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