Bouchard Finlayson’s much-awarded wines need no introduction but the 2016 Kaaimansgat Chardonnay caught our attention recently. We have long been fans of this wine and a recent tasting of the 20-year-old 1997 speaks for the exceptional pedigree of this vineyard. The 2016 is sold at a fraction of the price you could expect.
The Kaaimansgat vineyard is planted in a special place. At 700m above sea level, it lies in the unique Elandskloof valley. Its high altitude and continental climate allow the grapes to ripen up to a month later than most Chardonnay vineyards. This, combined with dryland farming, results in small berries with great fruit purity and complex flavours. After 20+ years of working with this vineyard, Bouchard Finlayson’s Kaaimansgat Chardonnay 2016 offers a proven track record and remarkable ageing potential while being an absolute steal.
There seems to be a new spark to the well-established Bouchard Finlayson wines. Chris Albrecht, who has been under the guidance of Peter Finlayson since 2010, took over the production reins in 2017 and promises a smooth transition to future releases. The 2016 Kaaimansgat Chardonnay is delicious now with inviting peach and citrus notes following on to an approachable palate that ends powerful and salty. It promises 10+ years of maturation but there’s no need to wait.
Bouchard Finlayson, Kaaimansgat Chardonnay 2016 – R 170
The first time this wine caught my attention was when, in 1999, I tasted the 1995 vintage in Ireland. It was world class! Subsequently, I have drunk these on many occasions but the next ‘sit back and take notice’ moment was in 2017 when I tasted the 20-year-old 1997 and it was sensational. Enter the 2016. Some replanting has taken place and the vines seem to be reaching there optimum again. The 2016 has a wonderful exposition of fruit, blossom, stone fruit and citric freshness. The palate is powerful with saline structure and lengthened by well-judged oak. Inviting, juicy and delicious, yet powerful and grippy on the finish thanks to those small berries. This is a stunning wine but the price is just silly. – James Pietersen (August 2018)