Precious wines makes for precious times
It’s not every day that one gets the opportunity to meet one of South Africa’s top wine producers in person. I therefore consider myself blessed after I received an invite to join Peter Finlayson for an intimate lunch at the Test Kitchen in Woodstock. The man is renowned as South Africa’s Pinot Pioneer and I’ve been one of his biggest fans ever since my first sip. To this day I still get goose bumps when someone mentions the Tête de Cuvée Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2007. It’s one of my all-time favourites and I shed a tear or two when Peter informed me that it’s sold out.
The farm was established in 1989 and is nestled in the heart of the Hemel en Aarde valley. Fifty percent of the vines are set aside for Pinot Noir and Peter has won numerous awards for his sensational Pinot Noirs over the years. While Bouchard Finlayson is well known for their Pinot Noir, the estate also produces a selection of suburb Chardonnays, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Blanc de Mer and the ever popular and extremely unique Hannibal.
During lunch, Peter took us back in time and opened some of the farm’s older vintages. The Bouchard Finlayson Sauvignon Blanc 1994 was still drinking exceptionally well and the 1998 Sans Barrique Chardonnay was a true treat. Most consumers are under the impression that white wines should be enjoyed young, but the wines on the table busted this myth. Even the unwooded 1997 Kaaimansgat Chardonnay kept it’s freshness and structure.
Peter feels that a lot of South African wine producers release their great whites too early. He believes that the Walker Bay wine region offers the perfect terroir and climate to grow and produce extraordinary whites, fit to age. The cool sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean keeps the vines cool and this causes the grapes to ripen slower. The end result is rich, flavourful grapes packed with interesting characteristics.
We moved onto the Pinot Noir during the course of the afternoon and as expected they did not disappoint my palate. The 2003 Galpin Peak Pinot Noir brought out the best in the starter I had and the 2009 Tête de Cuvée Pinot Noir was an absolute show stopper. Fine things don’t come cheap, however. This unbelievably tasty wine is one of the 10 most expensive wines in South Africa and retails for a whopping R742.
The 2009 Hannibal made for the perfect end to an incredible afternoon. Meeting Peter Finlayson will definitely go down in my book of fond memories and precious moments. Not only did he put the Walker Bay wine region on the map, he proved that South Africa can produce magnificent wines that can compete and outshine some of the best in the world. May his presence be with us for many more years to come while his wines tantalise our taste buds and sooth our souls.