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Tasting notes from South Africa

text and photographs © 2010 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on South Africa 2010.

CHAMONIX

Gottfried Mocke is the youthful-looking winemaker who in fact has been with Chamonix for nine years. The Chamonix farm extends to 300 hectares, though only 50 hectare are planted to vineyard. But even there, Gottfried has been ringing the changes: "We're moving away from 'fruit salad' vineyards featuring lots of different varieties planted on the valley floor, and moving up the hillsides." Today his Pinot Noir comes from some of the highest sites in Franschhoek at 600 metres, whilst Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are at 450 metres. Soils vary, with greywacke-rich soils for Sauvignon: greywacke is rounded, river-polished sandstone also very common in the Sauvignon vineyards of New Zealand.

Gottfried says he practices natural winemaking, with all natural yeasts for fermentation whilst they are in transition to organic farming.
  

   Along with several other estates in the Cape, Chamonix uses a percentage of concrete 'eggs' for fermentation. The concrete is a very stable material for wine fermentation, and the egg shape is said to keep the lees in suspension longer (so requiring less stirring of the lees) and leads to a smoother fermentation pattern because the maintains the most even temperature throughout the vessel. They are now quite widespread around the wine-making world, already in use in Bordeaux Château. Pontet-Canet, and under consideration for the new cellars at Cheval Blanc.

the wines

UK Agent is Richards Walford, but see all stockists on wine-searcher.

Chamonix Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2008
Fascinating herby nose, not green but with dill and lemon thyme notes, lots of zesty lemon. The palate shows really bold, punchy, zest and citrus peel fruit and acidity. Very clear finish, with a cool, long, shimmering quality. 92/100. £11.00, Stone Vine Sun, Vine King, Swig.

Chamonix Chardonnay Reserve 2008
Ninety percent of this wine was fermented in new Alliers oak, with 10% in the concrete 'eggs'. The fruit comes from 30-year-old vines. Lovely oak, with beautiful marmalade flavours. Real minerality and beautifully intense palate with concentrated lemony fruit and a long finish. 93/100 £15.00

Chamonix Pinot Noir reserve 2008
Gottfried says the style has changed, and he is now not trying so hard to make it in a Burgundian style, but in a style that really suits his fruit and terroir. He carries out a big green harvest, with very low yields and lots of whole bunch fermentation in wood and concrete. Ageing is in all new oak, but long seasoned with low toast. Very attractive nose, with earthy, undergrowth aromatics. A certain briar quality to raspberry and smoky fruit. Fine, ripe, bold cherry fruit. Delicious fruit sweetness, spice and lovely length and balance 92/100

Chamonix Troika Reserve 2007
Cabernet Franc dominated Bordeaux blend. Beautifully fragrant, with the gentlest herbal notes but lovely clove, cinnamon and ripe black fruit beneath. The palate has immense fruit sweetness, really silky tannins just adding an edge to beautifully dense blue-black fruit. Fantastic length, with pitch-perfect fruit and balance. 93/100

See all stockists on wine-searcher.

return to South Africa 2010