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Why Chardonnay

On Thursday the 26th of May we celebrated international Chardonnay day.

My husband (winemaker, Martin Smith) and I have great respect and enduring love for this grape variety and relish every opportunity we can get to share our vision and our passion for it. We operate with the philosophy that anything can be achieved with hard work, perseverance and big dreams. With a lot of tenacity and joy, we pour ourselves into our wines. Personality is everything; close behind is honesty, courage and integrity. With each of our Chardonnays we will show you just how much personality you can find in this wonderful grape. Atlas Swift is a marriage of both of our accumulated experience studying Chardonnay and we are proud to share our Warrior Ladies with you.

What is wonderful about Chardonnay is that it is hardy. This means that it can survive being planted almost anywhere. It is originally from France, but made it onto our shores in the 1980’s somewhat infamously. Back then winemakers who had worked with Chardonnay wanted to bring it into South Africa, but struggled with the red tape involved with introducing a new variety in the region. Long story short (and no names mentioned), a plan was made. A few pioneers took it upon themselves to take a risk and make it happen. Today Chardonnay is flourishing in South Africa and is a strong contender with top quality wines on a global scale.

While hardy, Chardonnay is still dependant on the land it is grown on, the climate and, ultimately, the influence and creativity of the winemaker. Terroir and the creativity of the winemaker go hand in hand. At Atlas Swift, our goal is to show just how magnificent and versatile this grape can be. We grow our vines in four different regions, each with different soils and climate, made the same way in the cellar. This means that we are able to showcase the specific terroirs in each of the wines. The grapes were harvested by hand, whole bunch pressed and transferred to French oak barrels (20% new fill oak and the balance made up of 2nd and 3rd fill oak) where it underwent spontaneous fermentation, the wines are fermented and matured in barrel for a total of 12 months, with lees stirring twice a week to enhance the texture. Only 20% underwent malolactic fermentation to retain the freshness. After bottling, the wines were aged for a further 12 months prior to its release.

Cape South Coast Chardonnay

Originating from Onder-Duiwenhoksriver region, 8km from the ocean and 100m above sea level with chalk and limestone-rich soil, she is poised with wisdom. She contends with hot and windy conditions with a cool ocean breeze that keeps her grounded. This wine has a beautiful golden-green rim, with intense aromas of iodine and ripe citrus peel on the nose. The high concentration of sodium and potassium present in the soil brings forth a mineral quality to the mid-palate, and a fresh saline edge to a lengthy finish. [Insert buy button here]

Wine of Origin Cederberg Chardonnay

Located 250km north of Franschhoek in the Cedarberg mountains, an area renowned for being South Africa’s highest vineyard location, she is reserved, but fierce. She contends with the treacherous extremities of blazing summers and snow-peaked winters in sandstone and ferricrete soils. This wine has a straw colour, filled with inviting citrus aromas of lemon and lime peel, and a touch of orange blossom to round it off. The palate is precise and poised, with a tension derived from the fresh acidity, and lingering notes of lemon on the finish. [Insert buy button here]

Robertson Chardonnay

Situated 160km to the east of Cape Town in the Breede River Valley region in limestone-rich soils with significant differences in temperatures night and day, she is sophisticated, elegant and she stands tall. She shows bright golden hues, with aromas of ripe citrus peel, orange blossom and yellow peaches. The palate displays fleshy stone fruit characters, and the rich and creamy texture is balanced by a bright seam of acidity. She is complex with lingering flavours of golden apples on the finish. [Insert buy button here]

Wellington Chardonnay

Sourced from vineyards rooted in a combination of Glenrosa, and weathered schist and shale soils, some 70km east of Cape Town and overlooking the Swartland region, she is determined and confident.  The vineyards are farmed “dry-land” leaving them highly reliant on precipitation. She knows just how to show you love. This wine has a pale lemon hue with an abundance of tropical fruit aromas – pineapple, peach, pear and apricot. The palate is medium-bodied presenting ripe orange and grapefruit flavours with stellar balance between the fruit, acidity and oak components. The fruit complexity carries through to the finish, with a touch of a vanilla aftertaste. [Insert buy button here]

Shelter Chardonnay

This wine is a blend of all four of our Warrior Ladies, a place for them to come together and find a home, so to speak, a place to celebrate the best of four worlds with upfront aromas of ripe citrus, burnt orange and lemon curd, sultry flavours of grapefruit and hazelnuts on the palate, with bright brioche and yeasty notes on the lengthy finish.

Like I said, personality is everything. Just like Chardonnay, we are all faced with challenging circumstances, some are welcomed and some require us to be bold, take a risk and make it happen.  At Atlas Swift, we have a gorgeous Chardonnay to celebrate any occasion. Let’s make International Chardonnay day count, for we are all warriors!

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