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Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir Vertical 2010-2014


Product Notes

“While many enthusiasts have cellared Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot noir over the years, there are still a lot who only encounter the wine at a youthful stage. This vertical allows enthusiasts to really get to know our pinot noir and its story of place over time and through different life stages.” Anthony Hamilton Russell

Rare as hen's teeth, we have managed to secure an allocation of 6 of these 5-vintage pinot noir collections.

The 2010 Vintage:

The average of the maximum temperatures for the season - December, January, February, March was almost exactly equal to our long term average of 25 Centigrade, making 2010 essentially the same as 2009 and cooler than 2005 and 2003. Higher than average rainfall through winter and up to veraison, followed by lower than average rainfall until the end of harvest, contributed to easy, extremely healthy ripening. 2010 was a short, logistically challenging harvest (due to simultaneous ripening) with low yields, wonderfully high natural acidity and dense, complex, concentrated fruit flavours. Like 2009, another excellent vintage.

92 Points - Wine Spectator

95 Points - Wine Advocate

93 Points - International Wine Review

91 Points - Anthony Dias Blue

Highest scoring South African Pinot noir in the International Wine Review – 93 points

Highest scoring South African Pinot noir in the Wine Advocate and 1st to get a classic score – 95 points

92 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator 
Most Exciting New Wine
“Ripe, juicy and nicely compact, with plum sauce, blackberry and cherry skin notes wound at the core while mouthwatering anise and singed apple wood notes run along the edges. Possesses impressive cut and persistence.”

91 Anthony Dias Blue, Blue Reviews
“Bright and edgy, crisp and racy with tangy black cherry;  smooth, fresh and juicy;  long and balanced.”

93 International Wine Review 
“The 2010 Pinot Noir is the 30th vintage of this wine produced by this outstanding estate. Rich and flavorful with red fruit, earth, spice and violets, it displays big flavors on the palate with a soft texture and overall elegance. It is nicely balanced and structured with good acidity and a firm finish. A great wine to celebrate three decades of winemaking.”

95 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate 
“The sublime 2010 Pinot Noir is aged for 10 months in oak, of which 44% was new and the remainder used. It has a ripe bouquet of redcurrant, strawberry and Morello that shows no signs of under-ripeness that Hamilton’s Pinots occasionally exhibit due to leaf-roll. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe fleshy redcurrant and cranberry fruit that is underpinned by extremely fine tannins. This has wonderful build in the mouth and the finish is exuberant, almost feisty! This is an audacious Pinot Noir from one of South Africa’s top estates. 
Bravo to Hamilton Russell, who have produced an outstanding Pinot Noir in 2010, one of the finest New World expressions of the grape variety that I have encountered. When Hamilton Russell gets it right, they hit bullseye.”

The 2011 Vintage:

A warmer harvest than usual, with extremely low yields and longer than usual hang-times.  Higher than average rainfall in November and December resulted in the need for careful disease control, but this was successful and 2011 was a logistically easy and high quality harvest. We experienced lower than average winter rainfall and higher than average rainfall for the period of budbreak to veraison. Rainfall was also higher than average for January and February. This contributed to healthy canopies and absence of stress.

92 Points - Wine Spectator

90 Points - Wine Advocate

90 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate
“The 2011 Pinot noir was from a sample tasted chez moi and I compared it blind with a Burgundy of the same vintage.  It certainly held its own against the Grand Cru…… It has an intense, quite voluminous bouquet with crushed strawberry and red current scents intermingling with warm gravel, fennel and fynbos.”

92 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
 “Very refined, with bergamot and rooibos tea notes followed by silky cherry, mulled strawberry and cinnamon flavors at the core. Delivers a long, elegant, mineral infused finish. Seductive.”

The 2012 Vintage:

Overall, 2012 was an excellent vintage with a rich generosity of texture and wonderful depth of fruit. Drier than usual conditions in the last stages of winter and early spring reduced disease risk during pruning and bud-break. Good early summer rains helped with growth and flowering was problem free. January was warmer and drier than usual, resulting in healthy disease free berry and bunch development. The harvest in general was cooler than 2011, equal to 2009, and at 24.98 degrees centigrade, very nearly equal to our long term average of 25 degrees centigrade – the average maximum temperatures for December, January, February and March.

93 Points - Wine Spectator; 92 Points - Wine Advocate; Number 29 in the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the Year – highest position to date for a South African red wine.

SAWI Platinum Award

93 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator, Editors Most Exciting Wines
“Alluring, with gorgeous toasted spice and cherry confiture aromas, backed by silky red crrant, damson plum and cherry fruit flavours.”

93 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
“An alluring red, exhibiting gorgeous aromas of toasted spice and cherry confiture, backed by silky red currant, damson plum and cherry fruit flavors. The long, spice- and iron-tinged finish is very suave.”

Len Rothenberg, Federal Wines & Spirits
“For fourteen vintages now the Pinot Noir, our customers take home more than any other is not from France, California, or Oregon. It’s from South Africa, a country that doesn’t reckon in most people’s pantheon of great Pinot Noir.í«í_íëíí«í‰ But Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir proved its quality. Federalistas were buying it here long before the Wine Spectator jumped on the band wagon. í«í_íëíí«í‰í«í_íëíí«í‰In my book Hamilton Russell has been among the most burgundian Pinot Noir not grown in Burgundy. When young, its pinots have been reminiscent of Volnay, Morey St. Denis, or Chambolle, only in the riper vintages because of its rich fruit. Burgundian winemakers tasting it blind among their wines thought it was grand cru quality. í«í_íëíí«í‰í«í_íëíí«í‰Anthony Hamilton-Russell thinks that his 2012 is the best Pinot Noir he has ever made.í«í_íëíí«í‰ He’s right.í«í_íëíí«í‰ í«í_íëíí«í‰The 2012 has the acid-lined precision of a fine Pinot from Burgundy surrounded by fruit in richer tones than Burgundy gives, even at its ripest. It preserves the leitmotif of poised sense and sensuality that makes Burgundy so distinctive.í«í_íëíí«í‰ But it has warmer, sunnier, almost southern flavors. It is concentrated without being massive and bulky. í«í_íëíí«í‰The 2012 Hamilton-Russell Pinot Noir breaks new ground for the winery. It’s not Burgundy but just as good as some far more expensive ones. It’s sui generis, Pinot of a distinctive style. It is a terrific wine.í«í_íëíí«í‰ If you have been getting Hamilton Russell every vintage, you want to add the 2012 to your collection. If you have not, it is a great one to begin.”

92 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate
“It has a perfumed, floral bouquet with wilted rose petals infusing the red cherries, bergamot and fresh strawberry scents. The palate is clean and pixelated on the entry, adorned with a satin-like texture, extremely well-judged acidity and superb poise on the finish. This has gained a little weight over the next 12 months and while I do not think it has the substance for serious long-term aging, it is absolute charmer at this stage.”

Ian Blackburn, Wine Guru - Top 10 Wines To Give (And To Keep)

“Having travelled the world of wine, this is one of the greatest wine estates on the planet.  Consistent and elevating quality every year, Hamilton Russell is a great alternative to Burgundy and can be enjoyed near term or be cellared for a decade.”

The 2013 Vintage: 

2013 was a standout vintage with rich, generous, sumptuous wines displaying great depth of fruit and structure. The reds in particular benefited from the 2013 harvest conditions, with dark, complex fruit at moderate alcohol levels. A cold winter was followed by a cold wet spring almost up to flowering, while cool strong Southeasters with some rain during flowering and berry-set contributed to very low yields. In general bud-break was later than usual and for the first time Sauvignon blanc ripened before Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

A drier, breezy December and January contributed to healthy disease free ripening. The average of the maximum temperatures for December, January, February and March was, at 25.33 Centigrade, a touch higher than our long-term average of 25 Centigrade – warmer than 2012, 2010 and 2009, but cooler than 2011. Overall a later harvest and a harvest characterized by smooth logistics and excellent team work between cellar and vineyard.

94 Points - Wine Advocate; SAWI Platinum Award

John Szabo, Master Sommelier, Canada, March 2014 
“Hamilton Russell is the original and still the gold standard for the region. The wines are all class.”

David Timms, November 6, 2014 
“Your pinots were an epiphany!  I can honestly say that the wines you produce are the best Burgundian style pinot and chandonnays in the world.”

 94 - Neal Martin, Wine Advocate

“There is certainly more intensity here than the previous vintage. The palate is very well-balanced with good substance: beautiful, silky tannins and real poise on the Vosne-like finish. Dare I say, you might think that you were drinking say a Vosne-Romanée Beaux Monts, if it were not for the opulence on the nose. Superb.”

The 2014 Vintage:

In general 2014 was a challenging vintage, with warmth and Southeast drizzle in February creating ideal conditions for Botrytis (luckily - and with vigilance – not a problem in the end). This followed an unusually wet January with 1/5th of a year’s rainfall occurring over 3 days in what should be a fairly dry month. The standout feature of 2014, was the high level of physiological ripeness at much lower alcohols than usual - a highly desirable, but generally elusive situation for much of the Cape winelands.  

The wines have benefitted with a rich depth of character and lively tension, without the sweetness and weight of higher alcohol. The year at 24.85 Centigrade, was a cool one in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, when measured in terms of average maximum temperatures for Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar. Cooler than 2009, 2012 and 2013. For comparison, Burgundy for the equivalent period in the Northern Hemisphere averages 24.77 Centigrade. What we thought would be a particularly late harvest was very much in-line with 2013.

92 Points - Wine Spectator

93 Points - Tim Atkin

92 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

“Very stylish and alluring, with blood orange, singed cinnamon, dark tea and lightly mulled cherry fruit notes weaving together, laced with a tangy mineral echo that stretches out the finish.

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