Bouchard Finlayson’s Magic and South African nectars

Established in 1989, in the famous wine region of Walker Bay, Western Cape, Bouchard Finlayson always assumed as a boutique producer focused in quality and differentiated wines. Internationally, it won prestige with its production of Pinot NoirChardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, much due to Peter Finlayson, who before establishing and founding the company alongside the Bouchard family, created the mythical Hamilton Russel wines for several years, exploring his passion for Pinot Noir, and finding the way to explore it in that area of Capetown.

Peter Finlayson

Today, the company shares are in the hands of the Tollmans family (in charge of the Red Carnation hotel group), but the wines and vineyards are still on the hands of Peter.

Talking about vineyards, not only of PinotChardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc live the company lands, expanded through a wide territory that respects and pays homage to all the flora of the region; the region of Cabo is considered a Floral Kingdom, known as Fynbos.

And it was right where we started our visit through the domains of Bouchard Finlayson, a visit to the property, getting to know a wideness of plants, flowers and some animals that live on those lands, alongside the vineyards. And we were very lucky to have Frank Woodvine with us, the botanist in charge of keeping the entire property well maintained in terms of plants and the biodiversity of the region.

Frank Woodvine and the famous South African Protea 

Our visit starts with a car trip to an open field where Frank starts by explaining some questions about the atmosphere and the fynbos. So far, so good, the only difficulty was really to catch up with Frank as he moved towards another plant. It would be easy to understand our trouble, except that Frank is almost 90 years old! But that just goes to say that we have to spend more time in the fields and less at the gym.

The walk is beautiful, the plants of unpaired beauty, and despite already knowing about some of them, it is always different to see them in their natural habitat. But the most special thing about this trip really is Frank, his posture, the brilliance with which he explains each detail, and above all, his way of being and the way he handed his life to protecting the essence of this region.

Thank you, Frank!

A Hedgehog den 

After a long and inspiring walk, we returned to the cellar, to sit and enjoy the famous wines, served by Peter himself.

We started with the Blanc de Mer 2018, a blend, with a riesling dominance, with very floral aromas, apricot, and quince notes, well balanced by an interesting freshness, nicely paired with the ocean just by our side. Followed the Sauvignon Blanc 2018, a caste I tend to not love as much, most of the times, except for some rare exceptions of terroir, and here it was very fresh, very, very tropical, crunchy and balanced. A nice surprise!

While tasting the wines… 

Still, on whites, we tasted a Chardonnay Sans Barrique 2017, that as the name indicates, doesn’t stage in wood. Fresh, elegant, diverse nose and complexity above average, revealing that similarly to the wood structured wines, it will age very well. The Mission Valley 2016 is a classic Chardonnay, to the good Burgundy style, with an eight-month stage in wood. A beautiful wine, complex, structured, the wood is very nicely incorporated, the fruit is noticeable with highlight to the peach and pear, and a long ending that stays in the mouth.

On the reds, we went for a Galvin Peak 2016, a 100% pinot noir that shows us why Peter Finlayson is known for creating the best South African pinot noirs. Floral nose, red fruits, the fruit nicely paired with the wood, bringing to the mouth an excellent complexity and balance. A beautiful wine!

We also tasted the Hannibal 2016, a blend marked by the Sangiovese, with pinot noir, and nebbiolo, among other castes. A classic oenologist that results in a wine that transports us to Italy, although here resulting in a complex blend, light and easy, but at the same time tannic and complex on the fruit. Very good!

 Last, but not least, we had to write about the Tête de Cuvée 2017, a rare and exclusive wine, of which only four barrels were made. It’s a 100% pinot noir, only launched in exceptional years, here presented under “construction”, still in need of more time in the wood, but also presenting a very promising combination of dark fruits and spices. In 5 to 6 years it will be a great, great wine!

It seems we ended well! 

We could hardly ask for a better first wine tasting in African soil, excellent wines, and a heavyweight cicerone! Bouchard Finlayson is one of those companies, that although not in the most famous regions of Stellenbosch or Constantia, has conquered its spot in the South African wine route, much because of Peter Finlayson, for having believed one day that the Hemel-en-Aarde vale would be perfect for the most famous Burgundy grapes.

A region you can’t miss, irresistible wines!

Bouchard Finlayson 
Monday to Friday visits – 9h/17h | Saturday – 10h/13H
R320 Road, Hermanus 7200 – South Africa
South Africa+27 28 312 3515

Versão Portuguesa

Fotos: Flavors & Senses

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