Caroline’s White Wines and Cap Classique Review 2023

Hosted by the esteemed Caroline Rillema in Cape Town, this prestigious yearly event offered wine enthusiasts a unique chance to explore and taste some of the finest flagship white wines and Cap Classiques from the Cape region, all in one place.

The exclusive gathering featured just 85 top-tier winemakers, representing the crème de la crème in South African wine production, each showcased their ultimate, award-winning wine of the evening.

Once again, this event proved to be nothing short of spectacular. We had the privilege of sampling exquisite Cap Classique and a remarkable array of the finest Chardonnays. The journey continued with the tasting of delightful white and Bordeaux blends as well as exceptional Chenin Blancs, alongside the showcase of elegant Sauvignon Blancs, luscious Semillons and a captivating selection of niche varietals. It was truly an extraordinary celebration of the Cape’s diverse and exceptional white wines and cap classique.

Wines we tasted:

Laborie Cap Classique Blanc de Blancs 2017

This sophisticated Cap Classique reveals notes of green apple and citrus, complemented by hints of toasted bread and hazelnut. The palate is smooth and rounded, featuring refreshing acidity and concluding with an elegant finish.

Le Lude Cap Classique Reserve Prestige Rosé

Mature cherries, red lollipop and raspberry aromas create a refined character for the wine. Subtle grapefruit and wild rose notes follow. The palate starts with a lush texture and graceful acidity, featuring fresh red berries, wild plum and spice.

Bartinney Chardonnay 2022

Balancing aromatic ripe yellow citrus reminiscent of crushed lemon peel with a subtle hint of freshly baked brioche, the fragrance persists on the palate, delivering a lemony creme brulee sensation. The wine offers a fresh flavour, culminating in a creamy, lingering aftertaste that refocuses attention on its expansive structure.

Capensis Silene Chardonnay 2021

A burst of aromas featuring lime, lemon, orange blossom, jasmine and spice sets the stage. The palate, characterised by a taut combination of citrus and robust minerals, leads to a saline finish. Despite its lightness, the wine is both dense and enduring.

Creation Art of Chardonnay 2022

Single-site specific and barrel selection Chardonnay. Delicately refined with fresh lime and subtle quince aromas, the wine also exudes opulence, offering hints of warm butterscotch and almond.

Cap Maritime Chardonnay 2021

Lush aromad of ripe citrus, fresh pineapple and apple intertwine with subtle notes of vanilla, nutmeg and lemon. The lime and pineapple aromas persist, accompanied by white peach, apricot and hints of lemon and honeysuckle on a well-balanced, juicy palate. Refreshing and elegant, the wine boasts richness with a medium body, natural acidity and nuanced oak undertones.

David Finlayson Camino Africana Chardonnay Shale Terraces 2022

Displaying refined minerality, the wine unfolds lime-citrus and cinnamon notes. The front of the nose introduces a floral touch with wild white flowers like frangipani and almond blossom, which continues gracefully on the palate.

De Morgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2019

Warm toasted brioche adorned with lively marmalade. A foundation of lime and lemongrass provides structure, while floral hints of honeysuckle and frangipani grace the palate. The finale is a warm, indulgent touch of vanilla, concluding with a creamy almond finish.

De Wetshof Bateleur Chardonnay 2021

An array of flavours presented with elegance and complexity, characteristic of a classic Chardonnay. Citrus and pear-drop nuances harmonise with an intriguing nuttiness, culminating in an elegant citrus finish.

Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2022

Lemon and toasted almonds greet the senses in the Chardonnay’s aroma, accompanied by subtle notes of vanilla and orange blossom. The palate unfolds with impressive complexity, blending citrus and caramel flavours, culminating in a long, creamy finish.

Draaiboek Onskuld Chardonnay 2021

Invigorating aromas of citrus fruit, including lemon, lime and grapefruit, accompanied by a subtle touch of toasted brioche, fennel and nutmeg. The use of 30% new oak contributes to the wine’s equilibrium and imparts a smooth texture to the mid-palate.

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2022

Distinctive pear and lime fruit aromas and flavours are precisely highlighted by a crisp natural acidity and a prolonged, dry minerality. It’s an elegant yet textured and intense wine that exudes the distinct personality of its origin and vintage.

Hartenberg The Eleanor 2020

Abundant with fresh citrus aromas, the bouquet concludes with an alluring floral notes. The initial citrus freshness extends to a well-balanced and elegant palate, where good acidity meets notes of biscotti and stone fruit, leading to a lingering finish.

Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay 2020

A reserved, mineral-driven style that’s elegant, featuring a white fruit character, subtle oatmeal notes and a layer of complexity derived from carefully applied wood.

Lismore Reserve Chardonnay 2021

The Reserve Chardonnay exhibits vibrant citrus, stone fruit, jasmine, and walnut notes intricately woven with honey and vanilla. Supported by a distinctive minerality and crisp acidity, it concludes with a lingering citrus finish.

Neil Ellis Whitehall Chardonnay Elgin 2021

Presenting an appealing bouquet, this wine harmoniously combines lime, nectarine and flinty mineral aromas. The tightly structured palate seamlessly melds with the bouquet, creating a subtle harmony.

Newton Johnson Chardonnay 2022

Aromas of citrus, oatmeal, a touch of vanilla and a hint of flinty reduction. The palate is intense yet not excessively heavy, offering extra-concentrated fruit and vibrant acidity, concluding with a savoury finish.

Oak Valley Tabula Rasa CY548 2020

The aroma captures a breath of fresh ocean air, accompanied by lemon peel, lemon blossom and white nectarine. The palate boasts delightful concentration and enduring acidity. The finish is abundant with fresh tropical fruit, predominantly melon, culminating in a mouthwatering salinity.

Oldenburg Chardonnay 2022

The nose reveals abundant aromas of ripe apricots and naartjie. The subtle touch of oak is seamlessly integrated, introducing delicate notes of light vanilla and a hint of smokiness that gracefully linger at the edges of perception.

Paul Clüver Seven Flags Chardonnay 2021

This wine entices with a beautiful melody of fresh citrus fruits on the nose, harmoniously complemented by stone fruit nuances and subtle oak hints. The palate offers elegance, showcasing remarkable complexity, concentration and texture, leading to a lingering and layered aftertaste.

Rustenberg Chardonnay 2022

Crafted through barrel fermentation, this Chardonnay is a white wine that intricately weaves together influences from the vineyard, wild yeast and meticulous barrel ageing. The outcome is a harmonious blend that achieves a fine balance and rich expression.

Thelema Chardonnay 2020

Undergoing fermentation and maturation in French oak barrels, this Chardonnay of medium body unfolds enticing aromas of citrus, accompanied by subtle hints of peach on the nose. The mid-palate introduces a delightful nuttiness. The wine maintains a fresh profile with an underlying minerality, counterbalanced by a lingering, creamy finish.

Uva Mira The Mira Chardonnay 2022

An initial impression of absolute elegance unfolds, featuring zesty citrus and orange blossom aromas on the nose, accompanied by a subtle cashew nuttiness and a touch of lime. The palate delivers a tight, chalky and mineral essence. This wine is a beautiful and layered experience, marked by freshness, complexity, and depth of flavour.

Vondeling Babiana 2022

This blend combines Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Grenache Blanc & Roussanne, offering enticing stone fruit aromas. The palate unfolds as full and creamy, featuring well-integrated acidity and a lingering vanilla aftertaste. Thoughtful oak usage introduces subtle toasty notes, enhancing the overall palate experience.

Saurwein Riesling 2022

Floral perfume precedes lime, green apple, ginger and other spices on the nose. The palate, in turn, boasts dense fruit accompanied by sharp freshness, creating a creamy texture that enhances the overall experience.

Olifantsberg Soul of the Mountain The Matriarch 2019

Crafted from Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Chenin Blanc, this wine is a layered masterpiece, showcasing rich fruit flavours, underripe tropical notes and hints of curry leaf and bay leaf. The perfect touch of mouthwatering acidity adds to the impressive, long lingering finish.

Lourens Family Lindi Carien White Blend 2022

A fusion of Chenin Blanc, Verdelho, Colombar, Grenache Blanc and Palomino, sourced from Piekenierskloof, Stellenbosch and Voor-Paardeberg. The nose offers floral perfume followed by stone fruit, orange, spice and a subtle waxy character. The palate delights with good fruit weight, moderate acidity and concludes with a gently savoury finish.

Keermont Terrasse 2022

Revealing a bouquet of citrus blossom complemented by hazelnut, lemon grass and butterscotch undertones, this wine offers a soft, sweet entry balanced by a racy, linear acidity. A harmonious blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne contributes to its distinctive character.

Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine 2021

Gentle floral aromas beckon at the outset, accompanied by suggestions of pear drop, yellow peach and green almonds that gracefully transition onto the palate. The finish brings forth a pithy character and a subtle saline edge, leaving behind a lingering, fresh sensation.

Zevenwacht Chenin Blanc 2022

The aroma displays an exquisite fruit purity, offering delightful scents of apricot, white peach and citrus, accompanied by subtle undertones of oak spice. The palate is centered, featuring lively acidity and concluding with a finish marked by intricate minerality.

Thistle & Weed Khakibos Chenin Blanc 2022

Crafted from a blend of Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Palomino, Alvarinho and Fernão Pires, this wine presents aromas of lemon and toasted brioche. The palate, richly layered and expressive, is impeccably balanced by a searing acidity that carries through to the finish.

Metzer Family Wines Montane 2021

Presenting an understated bouquet, this wine reveals hints of apple and ginger spice. The palate, marked by a well-balanced profile, provides a textured experience over overt flavours. A vibrant mineral core dominates, with a touch of citrus enhancing the finish.

Benguela Cove Catalina Semillon 2021

This wine is created using 50% new barrel fermentation and a smaller stainless steel component. It exhibits a focused, herbal and intensely perfumed character, featuring flavours of cream, citrus zest and lanolin. Subtle patisserie spices enhance the profile, leading to a tangy, lingering finish.

Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2020

Inviting aromas of mandarin orange, tangerine peel, pineapple, fragrant blossoms and spicy oak nuances that intensify the citrus character. The mid-palate is a lively tapestry of vibrant, pure flavours of grenadilla, yellow apple and preserved lemon. This wine is fleshy, full and textured, yet maintains zest, elegance and balance, culminating in a beautiful salinity that lingers.

Damascene Old Bush Vine Semillon 2021

Brilliantly energetic and vibrant, this wine exhibits the classic interplay of citrus, beeswax and white peach notes, enriched with a flinty complexity. Sourced from the alluvial soils of La Chataigne Vineyard along the Franschhoek River, it draws from some of South Africa’s oldest Semillon vines, meticulously planted between 1942 and 1962.

Morgenster Reserve White 2021

Made from a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, this wine begins with initial hints of fresh citrus peel and almonds, unfolding into deeper layers of gooseberries, grapefruit, white peaches and quince. The palate offers an elegant and enticing experience, featuring a hint of lingering acidity complemented by the zestiness of lemon peel and grapefruit. This freshness hints at a promising aging potential, culminating in a smooth, medium-weight finish.

Botanica Mary Delany Chenin Blanc 2022

Derived from grapes meticulously sourced from distinctive vineyard sites across the Cape, The Mary Delany Collection is adorned with labels featuring botanical collages by British artist Mary Delany. This wine is both complex and elegant, boasting layers of pure, concentrated pear, citrus and stone fruit flavours, accompanied by mouth-watering acidity and a tangy, mineral core.

Eenzaamheid Chenin Blanc 2021

The nose unveils aromas reminiscent of yellow apples and a hint of beeswax. On the palate, a delightful richness and a fleshy mid-palate texture, courtesy of the sur lie aging process, complement the perfectly balanced fruit flavours with the wine’s crisp acidity.

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2022

Yellow stone fruit accompanied by bursts of citrus offers an understated yet powerful palate, concluding with a mineral finish and a delicate floral perfume.

An extraordinary evening unfolded as some of the Cape’s premier white wine and Cap Classique producers gathered under one roof. We were treated to a delightful exploration of diverse wine styles. The event provided a wonderful platform for comparing regional variations and tasting the nuanced flavour profiles of these exceptional wines.

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