You’re part of the ABC club or you’re not. Oh, and that’s the “Anything but Chardonnay” movement, if you didn’t know. I was TODAY years old when I learnt about the ABC club, by the way. Luckily for Vriesenhof Vineyards, though, I’m a die-hard fan of Chardonnay and theirs is particularly poetic.
I want my wine to be playful. It needs character and personality, just like my friends. Because if I’m going to allow myself to indulge in a bottle of wine, it needs to be worth it, and promise a complete full-body experience. I want it to woo me; it must win my favour and charm me. Entice me; even seduce me with its offerings. It should excite me with its label, branding and content. It must look as good as it tastes, and leave me with a desire for more. I want to be entertained.
Having said that; do I expect too much of a humble bottle of wine? I think not. With more than 800 wine farms in the Western Cape, wine makers need to go above and beyond to get their product noticed. You need to stand out and stand tall, whatever your approach might be. And this one, ladies and gentlemen, definitely caught my eye, as boldly and brightly as a peacock in the sunshine.
We live in an age where everyone is encouraged to walk their own path, to constantly innovate or discard proven wisdom. The freedom to explore the road less travelled, ironically – led to a traffic jam of similar thinkers.
It’s become convention.
We have stood firm in the belief that a wine is not made to order nor our vines twisted to suit trends. We don’t see ourselves as the masters of the process but as guardians or caretakers. If the grapes feel at home in the land they will tell the story that the land has written with a clear voice.
We are humble servants of nature – and that is unconventional. (https://www.vriesenhof.co.za/the-farm/)
Unwooded chardonnay 2017
I’ve said it a million times before. I’m an unashamed lover of Chardonnay. Gone are the days where Chardonnay is only excessively oaked, buttery, overwhelmingly rich, and heavy with a saturated yellow hue. There’s a movement away from the traditional perceptions around Chardonnay, and the modern day iterations are light, but complex; they’re textured and loaded with flavour. Wooded or unwooded – there’s a Chardonnay for every palate.
Tasting notes: Floral with a hint of marzipan, lemon zest and dried pear. Green apple and minerality on the finish.
In the vineyard: 100% Chardonnay
In the cellar: 24 Hour settling period before being racked off the dirty lees. Inoculated with specific yeast strains. Fermented at 12-17 degree Celsius for two weeks. Partial or no malolactic fermentation, depending on the vintage. Wine is racked off the lees after malolactic fermentation. Fine, healthy lees is added back to the tank. Wine is kept on this lees for approximately 6 months.
Cellar door price: approx. R100
The Little Hedonist’s food pairing suggestion: This playful bottle of unwooded Chardonnay is probably one of the most versatile wines out there. It simply loves food – any and all! What I love about it, is the combination of acidity and juicy, fruity flavours. The acidity works well with rich foods like cheese and cream dishes, whilst the fruity notes compliments fish and other seafood dishes beautifully. Let’s not forget what this wine does to spicy curries and stir-fries – the mellow flavours adds a bit of sweetness whilst enhancing the spice to next level awesomeness.
For this bottle, I would suggest a beautiful Mexican feast – think chicken nachos with dollops of sour cream and guacamole, spicy tomato salsa, quesadillas smothered in mature cheese, burrito’s with ground beef and a crisp, refreshing side salad. It’s fun, it’s playful and it’s a shareable feast. Everything this bottle could ask for.
But then again – why conform? Pair this beauty with whatever food you feel like – there are no rules when it comes to food and wine pairing, and if there are – you should surely break through them!
Vriesenhof puts the fun back into food pairing. It brings a fresh take on Chardonnay with this beautiful wine. I’m all for the playful fruitiness and cheeky zest. Definitely a wine rack staple from here onward. Life is too short to follow the crowds. Enjoy your Vriesenhof unwooded Chardonnay with a box of chocolates or a braai chop, for all I care. As long as you enjoy it. As long as it brings a smile to your face, and it works for you. Life’s too short for boring. Listen to your palate; it might just take you down unconventional roads to exciting places.
Photographer and photo credit: Timothy P. Gibson
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.