'this is a truly remarkable Chardonnay – one of the best I’ve had from South Africa' - Jamie Goode
A must-drink for any great lover of Burgundian style Chardonnay. 'Ava Marie' is a triumph, perfectly showcasing why South Africa's Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is home to some of the countries most interesting and elegant wines. This wine is named after a tiny single vineyard (just over 2 hectares) with soils rich in granite, clay and quartz. Combined with its proximity to the South Atlantic Ocean (just 5km), this lends itself to a vibrant, lean and mineral white.
As Greg Sherwood MW perfectly summarises: 'The 2019 Ava Marie is a very impressive creation indeed'. Though understated and restrained on the nose, it opens to a crescendo of vibrant fruit on the palate; think lime zest, pink grapefruit, crunchy green apple and lemon curd. Certainly capable of ageing for up to 10 more years, though still stunning to enjoy now.
The 2019 Ava Marie is a very impressive creation indeed. While many of the earlier vintages were a little more honied and resinous quite early in their evolution, the last few vintages have firmly moved in a direction that favours textural tension and a stonier minerality led by aromatics loaded with smoky, flinty, struck match reduction nuances, waxy lemon peel, wet chalk and subtle oat meal leesy notes. On the palate there is a very keen line of acidity together with an ample, fleshy, yellow citrus fruit freshness that boast layers of pithy yellow grapefruit, lemon cordial, crunchy white peaches and hints of sophisticated wet river pebble liquid minerality. One of Craig’s most Burgundian expressions to date, this wine combines fabulous tension with sublime balance. If you are a Chardonnay lover, not a liker, track this one down while you can. Drink now and over the next 8 to 10 years.
From a 2.06 hectare plot planted in 1999 on granite and clay soils, this is a truly remarkable Chardonnay – one of the best I’ve had from South Africa. Pressed, settled, and then fermented in a mix of barrels (just a small proportion new) and unlined amphora, it has a complex, mineral nose with ripe citrus fruit, a touch of pear and pineapple, and some spice, honey and hazelnut. It’s chiselled and linear, although there’s a touch of richness. In the mouth this is concentrated and quite intense with good acidity, and notes of lemon, mandarin, white peach and cashew, finishing spicy and vivid. This is a really beautiful, multidimensional expression of Chardonnay with potential for development, even though it’s compelling now. 96/100
Restless River is definitely one to watch in South Africa. They've been quietly gaining a fiercely loyal following, thanks to their Burgundian-style Chardonnay and ultra-elegant Cabernet Sauvignon.
The project came to life in 2012, and is run by dynamic husband and wife team Craig and Anne Wessels. These two are the kind of people you want to have a drink with (preferably a glass of their own wines!). Anne was a popular model before getting into wine, and Craig previously had an uber successful career in digital production, whilst also racing motorbikes and flying helicopters around the Cape. Now they farm an amazing array of vines in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. These include some of the areas oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines. They are people of many talents, but it's safe to say wine is their ultimate calling.
At Restless River, slow and steady wins the race. Everything is made with the utmost attention to detail, and no corners are cut in the pursuit of great winemaking. Everything is done by hand, from picking in the vineyards, to sorting fruit in the winery. 'Restless River is defined by its terroir, and Craig Wessels' thoughtful and careful winemaking allows it to be the star of the show.' These are future South African classics.