Why Waterford Estate’s Chardonnay 2019 is one of the most anticipated Chardonnays
Thursday - 19 January 2023
With the new release of the Waterford Estate Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 and its
knockout performance at the winemag.co.za awards with Top 10 status in South Africa, we
thought we should shed some light on this incredible wine.
Chardonnay is the most compelling and popular white wine in the world - with drinkers enjoying
it in the heat of summer and in the cold of winter - its versatility is unmatched. Since the farm is
located on the Helderberg Mountain in the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley of Stellenbosch, one
would assume that the farm would only consider growing Red Wine varieties, but with a little bit
of luck and with the aid of microclimates, Waterford Estate is able to grow a very high-quality
When it comes to Chardonnay a winemaker has a modicum of freedom in the style it can be
produced, from an incredibly oaked style of wine to a wine that only sees stainless steel - the
wine shines in any style. The Waterford Estate Chardonnay is vinified in a lightly oaked style,
this creates a wine that is more grape orientated, giving it fresher fruit qualities with a supporting
oak body that helps to balance the wine's acidity. The popularity of this style is ever increasing
and with our vines growing older and the quality of grapes ever improving we are sure to be
crafting incredible wine year after year.
The 2019 vintage spent 11 months in 100% French Oak Barrels, of which 15% was new. The
grapes were whole bunch pressed and barrel fermented, with bâtonnage for 3 months. With this
vintage, we did minimal Malolactic fermentation, instead opting for freshness, as the wine had
great texture. This lead to a wine that shows slightly richer and fuller complexity on the palate
compared to the previous vintage.
The luck of growing Chardonnay in Stellenbosch starts with the previous owners of the land -
they utilised the land to grow pears and citrus fruits so for them to branch out and plant
Chardonnay is our first strike of luck. They planted the vineyard back in 1988 on fine red clay
(Hutton) soils that has pockets of decomposed Granite layered in between. Red clay is a very
cold and moist soil profile that is known to add structure to the wine while the granite produces
great minerality and finesse to the overall presentation. The second bout of luck comes in the
vineyard’s positioning - it was planted on the East most section of the property, tucked right
under the steep face of the Blaauwklippen ridge. This shields the vineyard from a large portion
of the morning sun and aids to cool the vineyard down further thus giving Waterford Estate’s
Chardonnay its edge in growing on the Helderberg Mountain.
Lower than-expected levels of rainfall with the occasional warmer day during the winter kept us
apprehensive but once the season started to roll in we experienced moderate to cooler
conditions with windless nights - perfect conditions for flowering and fruit set!
We weren’t out of the woods yet as November saw warm berg wind conditions creating stressful
With the up and down growing season giving us grey hairs the harvest gave us some positive
results due to early picking dates which ensured lower alcohol levels in our wines with vibrant
Chardonnay was only brought into South Africa in the 1980s and the Waterford Estate
Chardonnay vine is among the oldest in the entire country. As of 2023 the vine will be registered
in the Old Vine Project as a heritage vine.
Winemag.co.za Top 10 Chardonnay Report - 93 points; Tim Atkin SA Special Report 2022 – 92
points; John Platter's Guide 2023 - 4 Stars
This vintage is one to look out for!
Don't miss out on your opportunity to taste one of the best Chardonnays in South Africa - visit waterfordestate.co.za to book a tasting experience or order
Hurry up! Sale ends once the timer hits zero