Smuggler's Boot, Chardonnay 750ml 2016South Africa, Elgin
The current vintage has yet to be tasted, the notes below are from the previous vintage:
'Peach blossom, orange peel, struck flint and a hint of vanilla on the nose. A gorgeous mineral-led approach is followed by nectarine flesh, dried apricot and white peach underscored by a fresh, lively acidity, more linear frame and complexity from oatmeal, peat whisky and green apple skins. Fabulous length of flavour and depth of fruit intensity is further enhanced with a rich texture and spicy oak nuances.' – Winemaker
2016 was notably affected by the weather phenomenon known as El Niño or ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Despite winter being fairly dry, it was at least cold with plenty of frosty mornings to allow the vines to go into a proper dormancy. Rain did finally fall in August and September but October, as the ENSO episode took effect, was unusually warm and windy resulting in uneven flowering. This gave rise to smaller berry sizes and with the dry weather, a healthy crop. Further, the hot January affected the ability of the vine to retain much acidity. As a result, the wines have a softer acidity, the fruit concentration is high and the wines have a good flavour profile. It was also important to press the grapes lightly in 2016; in fact we only did whole bunch pressing to avoid any bitter phenols and for this reason we decided to not include the press fraction at all in the final blend.
The grapes were handpicked and then whole-bunch pressed. Half of the juice was gravity-flowed directly to French oak barrels (15% new) without settling whilst the other half was placed into breathable plastic eggs. The unclarified juice has neither enzymes nor yeast added. 70% of the juice underwent a natural fermentation until dry whilst the rest used an innovative wild 'cultured' yeast strain Saccromyces Paradoxis. On all batches malolactic fermentation was discouraged by a light sulphuring post fermentation. The wine then matured in the vessels – in 2016 the Smuggler’s Boot Chardonnay spent an average of 8 months on its fermentation lees which were periodically stirred to enable yeast autolysis - that creamy, oatmeal mouthfeel component. The batches were then individually tasted and blended together with a light fining and bottled.
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