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2018 Reserve Chardonnay: Another absolute knock-out from Stellenbosch's DeMorgenzon

April 2021

2018 Reserve Chardonnay, DeMorgenzon

£125 per 6 bottle case in bond

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When I started in wine, I used to struggle to see remarkable quality in South African wine. That is not to say that there weren’t good examples available, but it seemed that numerous wines fell short of truly delivering irrefutable quality. So much has changed in the intervening years, the South African wine scene is buzzing with new producers focusing on small vineyards with an attentiveness that can only result in great wines. I find numerous South African whites that impress me now, but perhaps none more so than the Chenin Blanc Reserve and the Chardonnay Reserve from DeMorgenzon. Winemaker Carl Van der Merwe has won the prestigious Platter’s Guide ‘White Wine of the Year’ for two years in a row, once for the Maestro White Blend, and once for the Reserve Chardonnay, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that DeMorgenzon rank so highly in my tastings.
 
The name DeMorgenzon will be familiar to a number of you as we have offered their hugely impressive Chenin Blanc Reserve in several vintages now and it has become firmly established as a favourite amongst Atlas clients and staff alike. I am pleased to draw your attention to their equally impressive 2018 Chardonnay Reserve. This particular vintage represents perhaps the finest Chardonnay to date and given the favourable price, I think it is something of a snip.
 
The DeMorgenzon estate is based in Stellenbosch and was originally part of the Uiterwyk Estate – one of the oldest estates on the Cape dating back to 1679. The name ‘DeMorgenzon’ means ‘the morning sun’ and is so named as it lies in the first section of the Stellenboschkloof Valley to benefit from the sun’s rays, given its altitude (200 to 400 metres above sea level) and aspect. This impressive estate, extending over 55 hectares, is owned by the Applebaum family. Winemaker Carl Van der Merwe says his philosophy is ‘to interfere as little as possible and as much as necessary’. Certainly, part of the success here is that the winemaking is subtle and well attuned so that the fruit is clearly expressed.
 
The fruit for the Reserve Chardonnay comes from vines planted on granite soils mid-way up the valley slopes, where sea breezes provide a cooling influence easing the warm summer temperatures. 2018 was a very dry vintage for the Cape, stressing the vines and resulting in low yields of concentrated grapes. Whilst it was dry, daytime and particularly night-time temperatures were below average, which meant the fruit retained its acidity and more subtle aromatics. Grapes were hand-picked and whole bunch pressed before fermentation in French oak barrels (30% new oak), after which the wine was then aged on its lees for 10 months to add complexity and a richness of texture prior to bottling. The result is a simply stunning Chardonnay, which offers complexity and length in abundance, easily capable of ageing 10 years, or longer if you look at Neal Martin’s recommended drink dates…this really is another absolute knock-out from one of the finest white wine producers in the Western Cape. Perhaps there are other South African Chardonnay that might beat this for sheer quality, but I doubt they will share the same price point! The 2018 Reserve Chardonnay has received no shortage of accolades - you will find these underneath my tasting note below.



2018 Reserve Chardonnay, DeMorgenzon
£125 per 6 bottle case in bond
 
Showing the purity of expression that I have come to expect of DeMorgenzon’s wine, the 2018 Chardonnay offers aromas of ripe stone fruit, peach, nectarine and zesty citrus allied to a subtle hint of background toast. The palate captures a juicy, ripe fruit – completely more-ish with citrus and stone-fruits melding with a leesy, creamy back note. Very expressive already, this beautiful Chardonnay shows fine poise and persistence, with those limey notes reverberating on the finish. Great current drinking and yet with potential for development in bottle; the best of both worlds. Very classy winemaking. Drink – now to 2035. (SL)


95 points, Neal Martin, vinous.com
The 2018 Reserve Chardonnay was hand-picked and whole-bunch-pressed, then matured in French barrels, 30% new and the rest used. It has a stunning bouquet of yellow plum, citrus peel and orange blossom aromas that are seamlessly enmeshed with the oak. The palate is very well balanced, displaying orange zest and quince notes on the entry, a killer line of acidity and a very precise and persistent finish that lingers long in the mouth. I am not sure winemaker Carl van der Merwe has ever made a Chardonnay as good as this. Drink 2021-2040

96 points, Tim Atkin MW, timatkin.com
2018 was a very good vintage for Chardonnay in Stellenbosch, as long as you got your picking dates right. Taut, mineral and refined, with subtle, vanilla-scented oak, racy acidity and layers of citrus and stone fruit, this is one of the best Reserve bottlings I`ve had yet from DeMorgenzon. Drink 2019 - 2025

95 points, Decanter World Wine Awards 2019 - Gold Award
Restrained creamed corn and baked yellow apple aromatics. The palate is super juicy, plush and expressive with lots of well-judged sweet vanilla oak and tangy citrus fruit. Very good now and on the way to being better.

 


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Please let us know of your interest. Our stock will be available from early May.
 
All the best,
 
Simon
 

To request a wine, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Atlas team. We can be reached on +44 (0) 20 3017 2299, info@atlasfinewines.com or by submitting the form below. Please note that stock may be limited and is always sold on a 'first come, first serve' basis. 

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