Wine of the Week 17: Whalehaven Seascape Reserve Chardonnay 2020

Whalehaven Chardonnay

A fresh and vibrant cool-climate chardonnay.

From the third-oldest wine producer in the Hemel-en-Aarde, Whalehaven Winery’s brand-new ranges of chardonnay and pinot noir showcase the unique terroir and ocean-cooled climate of the region.  A departure from a previous focus on traditional Burgundian styles, the new varietals are fresh and vibrant – and have already accrued double golds at Gilbert & Gaillard.

Whalehaven Chardonnay: Restaurant

Whalehaven Seascape Reserve Chardonnay 2020

Whalehaven Chardonnay: Wine

The wine-making approach, which won this wine a score of 95 points and a gold medal at IWSC, and 93 points and double gold at Gilbert & Gaillard, is all about balance. “I used to do quite a bit of batonage in the early days,” says winemaker Reino Thiart, “but the style has moved away from that heavy, oaky, butterscotch kind of wine.

“For this wine I let more of the chardonnay fruit and structure shine through, with the wood in a supporting role. The grapes are whole-bunch-pressed to give structure and body, then barrel-fermented and barrel-aged in French oak for 10 to 12 months. I usually end up with about 50% new oak in the final wine. There’s a good balance between the wood structure, some wood spice, and the natural fruit character of the grape. And that limey patch in the vineyard gives a bit of minerality and flinty graphite.”

Whalehaven Chardonnay: Landscape

The wine’s vibrant structure, balanced by crisp acidity yields a refreshing and lively quality. Unlike chardonnays from warmer regions, these cool-climate offerings possess a delicate weight, allowing their true finesse to shine. The influence of oak is restrained, serving as a subtle dance in the background, allowing the fruit and other characteristics to take centre stage.

Ageing potential

With three years under its belt, the Seascape Reserve Chardonnay has plenty more ageing potential. “I tasted the 2020 on Monday with some clients and it’s fantastic now, but if you like a bit more tertiary flavours and bottle age in your chardonnay, I’d have no problem keeping this for another three to four years,” says Reino.

Whalehaven Chardonnay: Pairing

As for recommended food pairings, he adds: “Fish is a general go-to for chardonnay, but I’d be a bit more adventurous… maybe duck or white meat like chicken, but nothing too creamy or heavy.”
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The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 22 November 2023