Kershaw, GPS Vermaaklikheid Chardonnay 750ml 2016South Africa, Cape Coastal
'The 2016 GPS Vermaaklikeid Chardonnay (I can’t pronounce it either) was hand-picked and aged for 10 months in French oak, 33% new but averaging three years of age. The killer nose is precise and Burgundian, featuring wonderful tension and energy and faint hints of white peach in the background. The palate is beautifully balanced with a fine bead of acidity, very taut and focused and very harmonious. You will not be able to resist the outstanding white peach, orange pith and mineral-driven finish. World-class.' – Neal Martin Report 2018, 93/100
'During the year, I have the opportunity to visit a number of areas outside of Elgin. Occasionally, I come across something so fascinating that it deserves a closer look. In 2016, I discovered a small parcel of Chardonnay grapes growing on limestone soils – a rarity in the Western Cape. With limestone often touted as beneficial for Chardonnay grapes, it made sense to grasp this opportunity with both hands. The GPS Series is testament to these special places and celebrates them.' – Richard Kershaw
In 2016, the preceding winter was fairly dry but cold units were exceptional (1200) with plenty of frosty mornings, allowing the vines to go into proper dormancy. Rain did finally fall in August and September but as October began, the effect of the El Niño phenomenon (or ENSO episode) started to take effect. October was unusually warm accelerating budbreak and flowering. The fluctuating warm and cool days meant flowering was uneven, giving rise to smaller potential bunch sizes. After a cooler November, December was warm, sunny and dry enabling diseases to be kept at bay. A hot and dry January meant acidity retention by the vine was challenging but after a warm start to February, the weather finally became cooler and night time temperatures also dipped, more so than average, providing the vine with some respite after a particularly torrid summer. The drier conditions meant that disease pressure was minimal and a healthy crop was picked in early February. Although the acidities were softer than average, the fruit concentration was high and the wines have an excellent flavour profile.
Grapes were hand-picked in the early morning, placed into small lug baskets and tipped directly into a press before being gently whole-bunch pressed up to a maximum of 0.6 bar or until a low juice recovery of 580 litres per ton was obtained. The juice gravity-flowed directly to barrel (no pumps were used at all) without settling. The unclarified juice had no enzymes or yeast added to it and therefore underwent spontaneous fermentation until dry, with malolactic discouraged. The wine rested in barrel for 4 months prior to judicious sulphuring and a further 7 months’ maturation in barrel before racking, blending and bottling.
Restraint, minerality, freshness of fruit and a chiselled edge reflect limestone’s soil properties. This 2016 vintage exudes verve, grippy acidity and density in the mid palate. The fruit leans to Valencia oranges, dried pineapple/ exotic fruit, a touch of lemon curd and nectarine with a clementine pith texture, saline austerity and purity that will unfold over the next decade.
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AG: Antonio Galloni of Vinous.com | AM: Allen Meadows of Burghound.com | CE: Christian Eedes of Winemag.co.za | DEC: Decanter | GS: Greg Sherwood MW | JR: JancisRobinson.com | NM: Neal Martin of Vinous.com OM: Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show | PG: Platter's Guide | ST: Stephen Tanzer of Vinous.com | TA: Tim Atkin MW | WA: Wine Advocate | WE: Wine Enthusiast | WS: Wine Spectator