Chardonnay, 2019. Le Bonheur

Chardonnay, 2019. Le Bonheur

Item #: L1220W3IR
Vintage: 2019
Varietal: Chardonnay
Vineyard/Appellation: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Color: Pale Straw
Nose: Peach, Spice
Palate: Full Texture
Finish: Sprightly
Rating: 97
Cellaring/Serving Suggestions: Now thru 2023/Seafood, Shellfish, Fowl/13.5% Alcohol by Volume

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Le Bonheur rests in the Simonsberg Mountains at the entrance to South Africa's most heralded wine region, Stellenbosch. Wine has been a staple here since the 17th Century. Its reputation was glorious even then.

South Africa was a major exporter of fine wines to the United States until the early 1970s. However, their political situation with apartheid basically cut them off of all trade with the rest of the world. Things eased up in the 90s, but because they were shut out from many of the improvements in technology that happened in the wine world, they were slow to recover. That has changed dramatically as wines like our Le Bonheur attest.

Le Bonheur, which means "happiness" in French, boasts some of the oldest vines in Stellenbosch. There's nothing more important to the quality of the wine than the age of the vine. Winemaker, William Wilkinson, takes full advantage of that in crafting his wines with minimal intervention, as it is the wine that is at center stage, not the winemaker.

Wilkinson ferments 70% of the wine in French oak and then leaves it in the barrel to interact with the small pieces of seed and skin for four months. This gives the wine a round, full mouthfeel while imparting the barest hint of oak. The result is a vibrant offering, redolent with fresh green apple, guava and peach with a lemon twist. It's stunning with lobster thermidor or scallops in a butter and saffron sauce.