Tasting Iona Chardonnay 2013
2013 Iona Chardonnay, Elgin, South Africa – $42
Situated east south-east of Stellenbosch – South African wine growing region – the relatively new Elgin is turning heads, particularly for the quality of its chardonnay. Elgin, like Stellenbosch, is a maritime climate due to the close proximity to the ocean, but here the grapes are grown at greater altitude resulting in fruit featuring higher acidity that tend to be picked generally a couple of week later than its famous cousin Stellenbosch. Elgin Chardonnay’s certainly display their own producer signatures but all feature mainly mid weighted palate’s that are obviously new world in demeanour yet with crisp, citrusy acidity and elegant cool climate flavours. It appears producers of Elgin chardonnay are inhibiting malo-lactic fermentation as to preserve the acidity and lovely aromatics. I see really lovely balance in these wines and producers have picked up on this right from the start – regardless of how each wine is made, these are less generous that Stellenbosch chardonnay’s, but the balance and purity of fruit is perhaps superior.
The 2013 Iona Chardonnay is restrained and fine with sleek flavours of white peach, dragonfruit, kiwi fruit and fennel featuring in this young chardonnay. In some ways the restrained aromatics mislead the features of the wine on the palate – it’s expansive as should be expected of a South African chardonnay, and mid weight but the slender cool climate flavours streak through the palate to provide a refreshing spine. The acidity is bright, citric and steely and it too is not expected in a chardonnay of this shape. I really like the finish of this wine – white peach flavours, crunchy acidity and a savoury almondy note all finish together at a point; proof Elgin is capable of producing very balanced Iona chardonnay 2013.
An intelligently made wine with loads of class – the 35% new oak is not at all obvious. This wine has a soothing sense of coolness to it, which is not easy to achieve in new-world chardonnay. The more I taste this the more I like it, and on the second day it improved and opened up even further. I also like what I think this wine will become with time in bottle – small gains in richness and texture and the addition of some golden notes should appear at 4-5 years of age. This is a quality new import into Australia that is well worth your attention.