Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2009

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The wines of South Africa get little attention in North America. Most of the cheaper wines we see here are not particularly interesting, made by huge producers and banking on the now-dead critter market. South Africa’s isolation also does not help, nor does its political history which kept its wines off Western shelves for decades. The best wines from this country are, however, quite outstanding and worth your time.

Unique Chardonnay

Rustenberg is one of the country’s oldest wineries, founded in 1682 in Stellenbosch. While I’ve not been to South Africa, every picture I see of various wineries is absolutely stunning. Rustenberg is no exception, nestled amongst some dramatic scenery.

Five Soldiers is the winery’s top white, and I think one of the best Chardonnays I’ve tasted from South Africa. It’s a fascinating wine that is unique in style and flavour, likely due both to its terroir (300-450m above sea level in old, decomposed granite) and whole bunch fermentation. The wine is raised in 300L Burgundy barrels, 70% new for 15 months.

This Chard, at 13.1% alcohol, is full bodied but elegant. There is nothing overwrought here, just delicious lemon and lime custard, smoke and vanilla pod. Succulent, ripe flavours with a full but restrained mouthfeel. It’s a delicious, unique wine and highly recommended.

$58 at Liberty


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