I was recently invited to a small, intimate ‘Table of Friends’ luncheon hosted by Peter Finlayson. There were only six of us and it was wonderful to get to know Peter in an informal environment.
Established in 1989, in the temperate Hemel-en-Aarde Valley on 125 ha of Walker Bay’s prime viticultural land, Bouchard Finlayson Vineyard and Winery is a small cellar dedicated to the quality production of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Ever since releasing their first vintages, their name has been internationally synonymous with excellence. Today, as sister property to the Tollman family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection, 22 ha of the estate are currently under vine with 50% devoted to the varietal for which Peter is most acclaimed – Pinot Noir.
Inevitably, and as it should, our lunchtime conversation came around to wine. Peter described the 2014 vintage. ‘Despite this wet harvest, we are excited to have secured a stock of excellent wines. Fortunately towards the end of February we basked in some fine, hot, sunny weather which marked the end of the harvest. History reminds me of the wonderful wines secured from vintage 1997 and 2003, which were certainly not without wet and adverse weather,’ he says. ‘While alcohol levels will be lower there is no reason not to look forward to some exciting offerings from 2014.’
Peter had brought along his new 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and his excitement for the vintage seemed contagious! While this vintage does not detract from a distinctly Sauvignon Blanc flavour footprint it does project a very luscious palate. This arising from their non-traditional viticultural practice of implementing high density plantings. Research has shown that high density plantings offer greater physiological ripening at harvest time which, during this past wet summer would have provided useful reward under adverse weather patterns. The nose is fragrant and the palate portrays rich tropical fruit flavours of litchi, granadilla and guava. The wine is crisp, signalling confirmed structure and good but gentle acid balance.
We also got to taste three vintages of the highly acclaimed Tete de Cuvee Galpin Peak Pinot Noir. Peter believes great Pinot Noir vineyard sites, beyond Burgundy, are mostly a recent occurrence (of the past 30 years) and as with quality Burgundy wines, the statement of distinctive new world Pinot Noir wines is limited. ‘It is not the political boundaries which can lay claim to the magic places on which great Pinots are grown, it is the site uniqueness which makes its mark and I regard these sites as international gems. This is the message which I projected during my recent tasting and pouring trip through Holland, Poland, Russia and the UK. The message that Bouchard Finlayson aims to produce wines of an international standard… And to think of our Pinots as “beyond Burgundy”.’
Where R320, near Hermanus
When Open for tastings and sales Monday to Friday from 9 am – 5 pm and on Saturdays from 10 am – 1 pm
Cost R40 pp to taste six Bouchard Finlayson wines
Contact +27 28 312 3515, www.bouchardfinlayson.co.za
Karen Glanfield is host of the very successful ‘Unwined’ wine appreciation courses, a Wine Specialist Tour Guide and is involved in many other vinous activities. Follow her adventure on Twitter @kgbwine