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International Trophy Pinot Noir under £15 – Elgin Vintners, South Africa 2012

What an entrance! Toasty aromas of oak, earthy black plum, intense black cherry, spice and even a Gevrey-Chambertin hint to it. Ambitious and impressive in equal measure, with chalky, mineral tannins, classy oak and gorgeously ripe fruit carrying plenty of freshness.
Not available in the UK

THE JUDGING PANEL enthused about this ‘thrilling’ wine, with its archetypal Pinot Noir character – all smoky fruit and refinement in a style not often seen at this price level. Praised as ‘Burgundian’, Elgin Vintners took this International Trophy over another greatvalue New World rival.

Three vineyards contribute fruit to this winning wine, reflecting the ethos of Elgin Vintners’ partnership of six farming families in South Africa’s cool Elgin Valley. Between them, the families own a collection of vineyards within a 12km radius, offering a broad spectrum of soils, aspects, altitudes and mesoclimates.

Of the three sites, the Elgin Orchards vineyard gives this wine body and depth thanks to its richer soils, while Eikenhof – planted at 500m, reputedly the coolest vineyard in South Africa – offers an unmistakable texture. Meanwhile, Wallovale produces fruit with an expressive, coolclimate elegance and finesse.

The driving force behind Elgin Vintners is Max Hahn, owner of majority shareholder Elgin Orchards, whose association with the area goes back to his childhood. The Ridgelands Homestead on his farm – bought in 2001 and recently renovated to house the Elgin Vintners offices and tasting facility – was opened up at the end of World War II to help returning wounded soldiers to recover.

One of the soldiers stationed at Ridgelands was Hahn’s father, who became close friends with the owners, meaning that the young Max spent weekends and childhood holidays on what was then an apple and pear farm – falling in love with the area in the process. He remains one of Elgin’s most enthusiastic champions.

The team in the fynbos pic 008

Max Hahn (second from right) is the driving force of the Elgin Vintners team

Tasted against

Marks & Spencer Clocktower Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand 2013.

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