Ataraxia Chardonnay 2008 follows a golden trail

Date posted:
August 11, 2009

Kevin Grant’s Ataraxia Chardonnay 2008 has just been selected as Wine Magazine’s Wine of the Week.


Well, it should come as no surprise as this Hemel en Aarde winemaker of note has produced some very noteworthy wines, with his Chardonnays, among others, getting constant rave reviews.


For example, Kevin’s 2005 vintage was “one of the 10 best wines tasted during 2006”, according to Michael Fridjhon in Wine Magazine. It was called the “Best New World White Wine” by Stephen Spurrier in February 2007’s Decanter Magazine, and he added: “An Extraordinary Chardonnay”. It also made the Top 20 Hot New Wines by British Airways for Upfront Magazine.


The 2006 vintage was called “outstanding” by James Molesworth of The Wine Spectator in the USA (March 2007), while it received a blind tasted rating of 92/100 in The Wine Spectator’s monthly Buying Guide (31st July 2007 issue) in which it was called “richly layered, but very stylish, with lots of dried pineapple, mango and fig flavours, backed by bright minerality”. It was also selected as one of James Molesworth’s Top 20 South African Wines in the 30th April 2008 issue.


Ataraxia was also one of only five South African chardonnay producers to be recommended in a comprehensive review of chardonnays from around the world in The Wine Spectator of 15th May 2008


Asked about his 2008 vintage, Kevin said: “This wine is the seamless product of some truly unique, extreme and radical vineyard sites mostly situated in the Hemel-en-Aarde and Elgin Valleys. Soils from these sites are derived from well-drained Table Mountain sandstone which overlay intrusions of clay rich shale from the Bokkeveld group. Because of the cool climate that exists in these valleys, the grapes were required to hang long on the vine in order to reach optimum ripeness. Picked during the early hours of the morning on the 4th and 5th March 2008, the grapes were rushed to the cellar to ensure that all the exciting fruit flavours were preserved to be eventually reflected in this wine.”


Regarding the style, Kevin added: “A minimalist, non-interventionist winemaking approach was adopted. It is 100% barrel fermented and carefully matured in specially selected small French oak barriques sourced exclusively from Burgundian coopers. Fortnightly batonnage was employed throughout the 9 month maturation period. The result is a Chardonnay that is New World in provenance, but Old World in stylistic leaning.


“A chiselled, focussed wine that effortlessly manages to be both subtle and intense. It has a rich core of fiercely expressive grapefruit, white flowers, pear and grilled almond aromas and flavours. The palate is penetrating and profound, yet graceful and poised. A racy acidity and soil-derived gravely minerality adds to the classic length and complexity of this stylish, world class Chardonnay.”




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