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Crystallum `Clay Shales` Chardonnay

Walker Bay


This small winery was established in 2007 by brothers Peter-Allan and Andrew Finlayson...

Their father, Peter, was a pioneer in the production of cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Bouchard Finlayson, so after university it seemed the natural thing for the boys to return home and source some fruit from the Hemel-en-Aarde valley to start their own label. 

Crystallum is now one of the most highly regarded wineries in South Africa.  Yet the Finlaysons are determined to make even better wines. Peter-Allan has sourced fruit from some new vineyards, while winemaking has evolved.  All the wines are now wild fermented, and new oak has been reduced to help the bright fruit shine through.

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The single vineyard Clay Shales Chardonnay (so named because the vineyard has lots of clay and shale in the soil) is made from fruit grown 300 metres above sea level in the mountains behind the town of Hermanus in the Walker Bay. This region is characterised by a cool climate that results in delayed ripening and a late harvest. The soil composition allows for optimum fruit development while naturally restricting vigour, giving lovely acid and balance.

Vintage information

A perfect growing season with generally cool, moderate conditions was upset in the first week of January, and a month before the start of harvest, by a deluge of more than half the annual rainfall. The growers feared rot, but this turned out to be a very healthy vintage. Like 2013, harvest dates were fairly late.


The grapes were brought to the cellar in small crates and pressed whole bunch into tank. The juice was then settled and racked into 228 litre French oak barrels, 17% of which were new, the remainder between three and six years old. The wine fermented naturally in barrel to give superb texture, and remained on its lees for 10 months. It was then racked into other barrels and bottled by hand with no filtration or cold stabilisation.

Tasting Notes

Classic flint on the nose with floral, lemon, pear and peach notes. The palate is beautifully balanced with a lovely play between a fruit core and steely backbone. A saline element and succulent, juicy texture add to the complexity of this intriguing wine.

Vintage information

Vintage 2014
Grape varieties 100% Chardonnay
Region Walker Bay
Winemaker Peter-Allan Finlayson
Alcohol (ABV) 13.5%
Acidity 6g/l
Residual Sugar 2.6g/l
Wine pH 3.21