30 Mar 2012
SA Trip highlights part II: Hemel-en-Aarde Valley wine tastings
The first day of wine tasting on my trip, the day took us to a couple of top producers in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley of Hermanus.
Day 2: Early morning jog through the gorgeous oak lined streets of Stellenbosch and on the trails above Coetzenberg sports complex. Visit to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in Walker Bay. Drive the scenic route via the Franschhoek pass and get amazing views of the whole Franschhoek Valley. Once in Walker Bay we visited Southern Right and Hamilton Russell Vineyards. Hemel-en-Aarde translates to Heaven and earth, and while I am not sure how the name came about, it is seems very fitting.
The coolest discovery was that Southern Right, the pinotage and sauvignon specialist named for the Southern Right whale, actually makes an ocean aged sauvignon blanc. They must be the only producer in the world to do this. Who knows if it improves the wine, but it seems to make sense. A couple of years of gentle swaying in a really cool environment, how can it not help? With help from a local diving school, the bottles were submerged into about 20 feet of water in the Hermanus harbor and secured in a cage. A few years later the bottles are covered in barnacles and sea growth, and they sell out for top dollar. Even the regular Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 2010
which was not ocean aged has a wonderful salinity. If you are having almost any form of seafood, this is the wine to drink with it.
Hamilton Russell of course is known for producing some of the best Burgundian renditions of Pinot noir and Chardonnay in South Africa. Hamilton Russell was one of the very early pioneers of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley which has seen a lot of development in the last decade. The Hamilton Russell Pinot noir 2009
is a cool climate, terroir driven wine with lots of dark cherry and blackberry fruit, hints of herb and black tea, and a long mineral finish. Note to all future tourists: Hermanus is worth the side trip. Try for September when the whales are quite frisky after a very long swim from somewhere. Whale watching is done from cliffs overlooking Walker Bay and on a good day the whales are plentiful. Then stop by some of the local wineries in the nearby Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
Posted by Oliver