2020 Crystallum Chardonnay The Agnes

93
VM
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Wine Critic Reviews for 2020 Crystallum Chardonnay The Agnes

The 2020 The Agnes has a clean, precise, crushed stone nose with dewy green apple, fresh pear and grassy meadow aromas. The palate is well balanced, taut and fresh, featuring a fine bead of acidity and a spicy undertow that defines the finish. Reserved but cerebral. I would like to see where this goes with bottle age.

Vinous Media | 93 VM

Wine Details on 2020 Crystallum Chardonnay The Agnes

More Information
Producer Crystallum
Region South Africa
Country South Afri
Type of Wine South Africa White
Varietal Chardonnay: Chardonnay has carved its path towards the title “king of white grapes” in subtle yet striking fashion, playing instrumental roles throughout the course of history. It was the chosen grape variety which celebrated the inception of the very first Champagne house - Ruinart, which insists “Chardonnay is the golden thread that runs through the Ruinart taste. “ “Remember men, it’s not just France we’re fighting for, it’s Champagne,” Winston Churchill. The infamous and celebrated French author, Alexandre Dumas once declared a high quality chardonnay wine from Le Montrachet was one that is only appropriate to sip “on bended knees, with head bowed.” And of course, history was made once again when a bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was awarded first prize in the famous tasting of the “1976 Judgement of Paris,” changing the world’s view on California Chardonnay, inspiring vintners and altering the landscape of California winemaking forever.

The origin of the Chardonnay grape can be traced back to the small village of Macon in the Burgundy appellation of France. The varietal, whose name means “a place of thistles” in Latin, is the offspring of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. Like most prominent grape varietals, the exact circumstances of its inception are unknown; however, it is interesting to note that Gouais Blanc originated in Germany. It is speculated that the ancient Romans, who successfully subdued the Germanic tribes in 6 AD, planted Gouais Blanc in French soil, unwittingly prompting the crossbreeding of the two varietals. If this is the case, the history of the Chardonnay grape goes back much further.

The Noble Chardonnay grape variety is most happy in the winegrowing appellation of Burgundy, its home and birth place. Burgundy’s grand Terroir of marl limestone soils and cool climate allows the Chardonnay grape to express itself to its full zenith. Interestingly, the varietal is extremely flexible and can adapt to a wide diversity of soils, allowing the terroir in which it grows to dictate the qualities of the grape and thus revealing a multitude of personalities. For instance, there are subtle yet distinguishing differences in terroir in the Burgundian villages of Puligny-Montrachet, Chablis, Meursault, Corton Charlemagne, Macon, etc. which are all fashioned in their own unique way. The difference in each Climat or Lieu-dit, such as Le Montrachet (Puligny-Montrachet) and Valmur (Chablis) can take one further down the proverbial “rabbit-hole” and into the wonderful, yet complex world of Burgundy wines. However, Burgundy is but one prime growing location for this tremendously adaptable grape variety.

The spread of Chardonnay would eventually take root in Champagne, where it excelled in the region’s cool climate and chalky, sub-soils. For top Champagne producers, it became the main ingredient in their high quality, high profile Blanc de Blancs. It would also begin to be blended with the two other acceptable varietals of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (red skinned grapes). The chardonnay grape is now planted in 10,000 of the 34,000 hectares of Champagne.

Chardonnay would find its way to California in the late 1800’s but would remain obscure for more than a century due to ignorance of the varietal and lack of knowledge on how to marry it with appropriate terroir. Things changed in the 1970’s when Chardonnay saw a resurgence world-wide, mostly due to the 1976 Judgement of Paris. The unthinkable happened when a bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena bested some of Burgundy’s finest chardonnay offerings from Batard-Montrachet and Meursault. This event helped place California on the map, changing the face of California winemaking forever. It rejuvenated the cultivation of the Chardonnay grape variety, which saw an exponential growth world-wide.
Much like the climats of Burgundy which have their own unique terroir, Chardonnay’s adaptability has found a home in the diverse appellations, terroirs and climates of California. The cool climate locations produce crisp wines with Burgundian nuances, while warmer climates produce wines with opulent, ripe fruit reminiscent of pineapple, mango and papaya. Terroir also dictates the personality, steel and concrete tanks versus oak, and the list goes. From buttery, oak-infused heady wines to crisp, refreshing cool climate fashioned Chardonnays, the grape variety can be extremely modified. There are not enough letters in Microsoft Word to demonstrate all the different nuances, qualities, differences of terroir, climate and winemaking techniques that would encompass in full, the details of the Chardonnay grape.

The well-travelled grape varietal of Chardonnay has become the fascination of consumers around the world, becoming the most written about of all grapes. Today, it is planted in over 40 countries, amassing an impressive 211,000 hectares (500,000 acres) across the globe. From Burgundy to Champagne, Napa to Sonoma, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, Chardonnay graces vineyards around the world, captivating its audience with its multiple personalities. “So powerful is the ‘C-word’ on a wine label,” as the famed Jancis Robinson exclaimed. Since its discovery in Macon, this C-word has become a dominant force in the world of wine, changing history, winemaking and the understanding of winegrowing and its powerful attributes to a single varietal.

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