2017 Brew Cru Chardonnay
Yes, I bought this wine when the Milwaukee Brewers were headed into the Division Series and yes, it did positively predispose me to it. And hey, why not?
But the real reason I bought it is because this is exceptional Pinot Noir, from a specific terroir that deserves to be explored.
Located on the Klein River Lagoon at Walker Bay, South Africa, is a small rise of sand and clay soils facing north and northwest. Here is one of the most southern, if not The most southern, vineyards in the world. The air is cool, the wind is high, and the nights are long. In other words, the combination of soil, air, climate and sun make this a perfect place for growing Pinot Noir.
Why the Brew Cru? Well this is three friends, getting together, buying some fruit and making the best possible wine they can. All three love Burgundy, adorecool climate Pinot Noir, and relish in elegant, low-alcohol wines. All three are also winemakers at different wineries, so they got together to choose fruit to farm and purchase and then make into these wines.
’17 is being raved about as one of the best vintages ever for Walker Bay, and in this wine it shows. The clay-rich soils, when matched with Pinot clone 115, give the wine a lifted red strawberry fruit character with a vibrant minerality. There is a touch of forest floor and sous bois to the wine, along with a tightly wound tannin structure. From my blind tastings, the complexity going on right now with the fruit, aromatics, acidity and tannin indicate this wine is bound to be a long-term ager in your cellar. While I won’t say Grand Cru, it reminds me of tasting a very young Premier Cru Chambolle Musigny from say, Anne Gros. The aromatics, power, elegance, and length are all there, but you have to coax them out of the glass for this early tasting, knowing that in time, you’ll have great treasure on your hands. I expect nothing less from this Pinot Noir.
If the Pinot is Chambolle Musigny, than the Chardonnay is a mineral, no oak and no malo rendition of Meursault, say Ente Meursault (but this doesn’t cost $100s of dollars a bottle). Here, the Brew Cru Chardonnay displays Chardonnay’s limestone-y-ness character. A melding of stone and citrus fruits but dominated by the smell of wet stones and the sea. They don’t put the wine through malo, so the fruit is vibrant and crisp, clean and briny. They do use a touch of older oak, bent only under water (not fire) with the idea that it gives oxygen and lets the Chardonnay develop its dry extract, but without changing its basic nature.
I suppose the bottom line is this – I was charmed by these guys and their wines. No, the wines aren’t cheap, but they made only 50 cases of each. It’s three passionate winemaker artisans, doing what they love, and that’s worth supporting. Further, they know they need to “break-in” to markets, so they offered us a nice discount. For the Burgundy lover, here is a great opportunity to explore an amazing Terroir.