Hemel-en-Aarde, Walker Bay, South Africa

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.

Today, Crystallum is one of the most highly regarded wineries in South Africa and is at the forefront of the ‘New Wave’ movement. Peter-Allan is always on the lookout for new vineyards and with each vintage he strives to make even better wines. The winemaking has evolved over the years and all of the wines are now wild fermented and the use of new oak has been reduced to help the bright fruit shine through.

‘The Agnes’ Chardonnay is a barrel-fermented blend from different vineyards in the valleys inland from the coastal town of Hermanus. It boasts aromas of white peach, green apple, butterscotch and a pleasant hint of gunflint. The single-vineyard ‘Clay Shales’ is in a cool-climate area just outside the Hemel-en-Aarde, which gives the wine lovely acid and balance, while the wild yeast fermentation gives superb texture. This is certainly one of South Africa’s best Chardonnays.

The ‘Peter Max’ is made from fruit drawn from four different vineyards, two in the Hemel-en-Aarde, one near Clay Shales and one outside Villiersdorp. Peter-Allan uses about 30 - 40% whole bunch, all wild ferment and a fairly long maceration to give a wine with lifted aromatics, lovely grainy tannins, good balance and length. His ‘Cuvée Cinéma’ is from a low-yielding single vineyard in Hemel-en-Aarde at 300 metres above sea level, and five kilometres from the sea. It is ripe and delicious, its dark fruit character and extra depth setting it apart from the ‘Peter Max’. The ‘Whole Bunch’ Pinot Noir comes from a tiny portion of the Cuvée Cinema vineyard and, as its name suggests, is entirely whole-bunch fermented resulting in a supremely perfumed and inviting wine with sappy, herbal inflections. The ‘Mabalel’ Pinot Noir, from a vineyard situated at 700 metres above sea level in the Villiersdorp area, has lovely ripe and vibrant fruit with great intensity and freshness. Finally, new to our list this year is the ‘Litigo’ Pinot Noir. The coastal 'Litigo' vineyard is situated just outside the Hemel-en-Aarde ridge. The site is south facing, meaning that the vines are shaded for more time during the day, thus producing wines which are lighter in style. The ‘Litigo’ has elegant floral notes from the 20% whole-bunch fermentation. On the palate, fine, velvety tannins and a vibrant acidity carry the flavours of bright red fruits and sweet spice onto the lingering finish. We receive only a small allocation of these wines and regularly sell out, so make sure that you get in quick once the new vintages arrive!


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