Winemaker: Peter Finlayson
Background: Pinot Noir is known as “The Heartbreak Grape” due to its stubbornness when planted outside of its native country France! Locally grown the grape can cause two problems for the winemaker, one that the grape fails to ripen sufficiently in cooler climates which results in thin wines and secondly in hot climates it easily overipens which results in a wine with course jammy flavours! If managed correctly Pinot Noir offers an elegant style of wine with its pale red colour and delicious array of fruit flavours. When young the wine has perfumed aromas and flavours of fresh raspberries, strawberries and red cherry and as it ages aromas of truffles, game, and well hung meat come to mind! With its high acidity and low tannin structure it is an ideal partner for foods with high acid. The Hemel en Aarde Valley on the outskirts of Hermanus is home to a collection of top class wineries where some of South Africa’s finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are produced. Contributing to this is that the Valley lies in one of the coolest growing areas in the Cape and being so close to the cold ocean the soils and vineyards benefit from the on shore winds. The result is a semi-Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild frost free winters. The soils are predominantly Bokkeveld (Malmesbury) Shale with duplex layers of clay and gravel (rich in ironstone and granite) with an underlying layer of fine clay shale which provides a source of moisture. However wonderful all these perfect conditions are for the vines in the vineyards there is always a team responsible to make sure it all happens correctly in the vineyards so that the finale of perfect grapes at harvest can be delivered to the cellar. One of the most well known wineries in this region is Bouchard-Finlayson. Heading the team is Peter Finlayson who I am sure must be the longest standing wine maker in the Valley having previously been head wine maker at the neighbouring farm, Hamilton-Russell, where he started in the early eighties. Besides a range of Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs he produces two Pinot Noirs namely the Galpin Peak and the flagship Tete de Cuvee Galpin Peak. Peter’s love for Pinot Noir has never waned and each vintage he carefully manages which can be seen in all the awards received for his wines over the years. Recently I enjoyed a bottle of his Galpin Peak 2015 with some friends over dinner and it’s another winner meaning a few bottles will be going into my cellar! The grapes for this 100% Pinot were destalked and left in tank for four days of cold soak prior to the start of natural fermentation. Fermentation took place over three weeks and once done the fermented grapes where transferred into a basket press where the free run juice was separated from the small amount left in the press (the latter being used for blending later). Eventually, after spending time in a settling tank, the wine was transferred into 228 litre French oak barrels where malolactic fermentation happened during the maturation period.
Result: Elegant ruby in colour this wine has rich aromas of black cherry which guides you to the palate offering a gorgeous medley of ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit complemented by well-integrated oak.
When to drink: Now till 2025
Drink with what: Norwegian Salmon!
Expect to pay: R382.00