De Wetshof Estate | Shades Of Chardonnay Winemaker’s Dinner

Located in the picturesque Robertson Valley, De Wetshof Estate has earned a well-deserved reputation for producing exceptional Chardonnay wines. With a history dating back to the 70’s, this family-owned estate is renowned for its dedication to Chardonnay.

The Robertson Valley has become South Africa’s leading Chardonnay-producing region, covering 1600 hectares of Chardonnay vineyards, with De Wetshof managing about 200 hectares. What sets Robertson apart is its limestone-rich soils, contributing to the region’s unique winemaking qualities.

Our evening centered around the various facets of Chardonnay. De Wetshof offers 7 distinct Chardonnay styles, each expertly paired with a gourmet 5-course dinner. The experience highlighted the harmonious fusion of Chardonnay, exploring various aspects of colour and flavour. Mustard represented the hue, reminiscent of the greenish-yellow tint found in mature Chardonnay. As for asparagus, it wasn’t chosen for its flavour but rather for its vivid colour contribution to the tasting spectrum.

Johann De Wet, the third-generation owner and CEO of De Wetshof Estate, shared the history of their family-owned winery, details about their unique wines and the passion driving them to create exceptional vintages. He also highlighted the distinct characteristics of each Chardonnay vineyard block.

Shades of Chardonnay Menu

Canapes: Mustard

Although mustard is not a Chardonnay character, but driven by the colour. We started off with Boerenkaas Tarte served with a Elderberry and pear mustard, perfectly matched with De Wetshof Blanc de Blanc 2021. This bubbly dazzles with its radiant light green shade and exudes lively aromas of lemon zest and green apples. Its creamy mouthfeel carries hints of citrus and minerality, accompanied by playful bubbles that waltz upon your palate.

Starter: Citrus

Grilled Daikon Salad featuring Prawns, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Mayonnaise and Lemon Salsa, served alongside Bon Vallon 2023 and Finesse 2022 was delicious. Bon Vallon comes from mountain vineyards with rocky soils and is left unwooded, while Finesse, from the adjacent vineyard, undergoes barrel fermentation in second and third-filled barrels. These two wines, both from a similar area, offer unique characteristics—one without oak influence and the other aged in barrels.

Entree: Asparagus

We enjoyed a delightful dish of Béarnaise Sauce with grilled Chicken Rissoles and tender green Asparagus, perfectly complemented by two outstanding wines: Calcrete 2023 and The Site 2022.

Calcrete, the newest addition to De Wetshof’s wine selection, stands as an unwooded Chardonnay. This initiative originates from the Robertson Wine Valley, where Chardonnay producers have joined forces to draw attention to the unique style of wines crafted from the region’s renowned limestone-rich calcareous soils. A select group of local wineries has been invited to participate in this collective of Calcrete producers. Each member contributes an unoaked Chardonnay distinguished by its vibrant minerality, embodying the distinct character of Robertson. Wines adhering to this exceptional style proudly feature the “Calcrete” label beneath each producer’s name, exclusively representing Chardonnays born from Robertson’s terroir.

On the other hand, The Site is the vineyard with the highest limestone content on the estate. Aged for 12 months in new wood barrels, this elegant wine exudes delicate aromas of lime and vanilla, harmoniously balanced with a creamy, nutty texture on the palate.

Main: Ginger

Moving to Mains we were treated to a Roast rack of Lamb accompanied by Water Lilies, Celeriac and Potato Puree and a ginger-infused Chardonnay jus. This exquisite dish was thoughtfully paired with two remarkable wines of Bateleur 2021 and Nature In Concert Pinot Noir 2022.

Bateleur represents the essence of their magical vineyard, characterised by a strong personality and a captivating spectrum of flavours, framed in elegance and complexity, hallmarks of a classic Chardonnay. This wine enchants with citrus and pear-drop notes, complemented by intriguing nutty undertones, culminating in an elegant citrus finish. Notably, it hails from one of their oldest vineyards.

On the other hand, the Nature In Concert Pinot Noir offers a beautiful tapestry of rich complexities. It presents fresh, fully-ripe, crisp berries and cherries, harmoniously intertwined with pronounced velvety-nutty flavours on the mid-palate, leading to a smooth tannin finish. The maturation process in the finest French oak barrels enhances the typical Pinot Noir fruit flavours while preserving the wine’s elegant characteristics.

Dessert: Liquid Gold

We ended off the evening with a delectable dessert featuring Cardamom Ice Cream paired with glazed Pineapple, accompanied by two exceptional wines from older vintages such as Bon Vallon 2013 and Finesse 2009.

As Chardonnay gracefully matures, it transforms into a liquid gold elixir. The ageing process bestows a newfound complexity upon these wines, yet they continue to exude the timeless essence of citrus and limes, while the chalky minerality becomes even more pronounced as time goes on.

The evening was truly memorable. We were taken on a captivating exploration of the diverse nuances of Chardonnay, unwooded versus wooded and discovering the essence of De Wetshof’s wines.

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