This small winery was established in 2007 by brothers Peter-Allan and Andrew Finlayson. Their father, Peter, was a pioneer in the production of cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Bouchard Finlayson, so after university it seemed the natural thing for the boys to return home and source some fruit from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley to start their own label.
Crystallum is now one of the most highly regarded wineries in South Africa. Yet the Finlaysons are determined to make even better wines. Peter-Allan has sourced fruit from some new vineyards, while the winemaking has evolved as well. All the wines are now wild fermented, and new oak has been reduced to help the bright fruit shine through.
‘The Agnes’ Chardonnay is a blend of different vineyards in the valleys inland from Hermanus. The wine has 10% of new oak, with the rest being aged in old oak and 10% being kept in tank to add freshness to the blend. The single vineyard ‘Clay Shales’ (so named because the vineyard has lots of clay and shale in the soil) is in a cool climate area just outside the Hemel-en-Aarde, which gives the wine lovely acid and balance, while the wild yeast fermentation gives superb texture. This is certainly one of South Africa’s best Chardonnays.
The ‘Peter Max’ is made from fruit drawn from four different vineyards, two in the Hemel-en-Aarde, one near Clay Shales and one outside Villiersdorp. Peter-Allan used about 30 - 40% whole bunch, all wild ferment and a fairly long maceration to give a wine with nice lift, lovely grainy tannins, good balance and length. His ‘Cuvée Cinéma’ is from a single vineyard in Hemel-en-Aarde which forms 30% of ‘Peter Max’. The vineyard has 7,500 vines per hectare and is 300 metres above sea level, and five kilometres from the sea. It is ripe and delicious, its dark fruit character and extra depth setting it apart from the ‘Peter Max’. The ‘Malabel’ Pinot Noir, from a vineyard situated at 700 metres above sea level in the Villiersdorp area, has lovely ripe and lifted fruit with great intensity and freshness. Finally, the ‘Bona Fide’ Pinot Noir, like the Malabel, comes from a single vineyard, but in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. It is intense and concentrated with 40% whole bunch fermentation, which adds fragrance and spice. We receive only a small allocation of these wines and there is never enough to go around!