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The Tale of Chamonix

In Afrikaans there’s a word, ‘fabelagtig', fable-worthy, worthy of a fairytale. The setting of Chamonix Wine Farm is ‘fabelagtig’, worthy of a story, if not a fairytale.


The Tale of Chamonix

There is the Reuben Riffel restaurant at the tasting room; the sprawling game lodge with its wild animals grazing at the foot of Mont Rochelle; Mr. Hellinger himself, a 74-year old German adventurer who first lived in Angola before settling in Franschhoek, a big game hunter, wine connoisseur and lover of the African continent; the spring high up in the mountains where they bottle their water; the mountain with the sprawling lodge nestled at its foot which for all intensive purposes remind us of a ski lodge in a Wes Anderson film; and the wine. The wine. 

The Winemakers

For a 248 hectare estate with only 50 hectares planted to vine (they're looking to add another 2 hectares this year) it would make sense that the wine is only a fraction of the whole. Though as an honest reflection of its terroir and all that goes with it, the wine might very well be the most faithful representation of the whole. There is an air of old world grandeur that permeates the estate, no aspect more so than the wine in which no expense has been spared. Chamonix wines have been made throughout the years by winemakers that have gone on to work at equally prestigious wineries. Today, winemaker Thinus Neethling (formerly of Cederberg Private Cellar) continues the winning streak with a range of 5 star rated wines, the most celebrated of which remains the Chardonnay Reserve

The Wine

Chamonix only uses fruit produced on the farm. Taking the elevation of the various sites (in some places 650 meters above sea level) and the natural yeasts predominant in the vineyards into account, the area’s natural assets guarantee a very precise sense of terroir and quality. The modern underground cellar (the first of its kind in the valley in 1991) with its concrete egg and steamed imported barrels all work to create distinctive wines focussed on the varietals best suited to the area. As you’ll gather from our selection, these varietals are predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir though we thoroughly enjoyed the Reserve White, being fools for a classic white Bordeaux blend. The ‘Troika’ blend is named for a Russian sleigh pulled by three horses, in this case the sleigh probably being the Cabernet Sauvignon being pulled by the varying percentages of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot; also a relevant metaphor to add to the ski lodge analogy. In order to demonstrate both the history and the scope of this farm we’ve had to put together two cases for your consideration, though in order to grasp the true meaning of the “fabelagtige” reference you’ll have to travel up Uitkyk road to see for yourself. As pertains to what WE can offer you NOW, the cases are as follows:

Published On: 03/29/2017

Daléne Fourie

Twitter @DaleneFourie

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