It was the last time the Nederburg Auction saw De Wetshof Estate’s legendary Finesse Chardonnay 1993 coming under the hammer, therefore it came as no surprise to see this item break the white wine price record at this year’s auction, commanding R1 500 per bottle. Two lots of three bottles were snapped-up for R4 500 by Roland Peens of the Wine Cellar.

The Finesse, a lightly wooded wine made from a site-specific vineyard on De Wetshof’s limestone-rich soils, is one of the Estate’s best known and most popular wines. The 1993 vintage of this wine has become a sought-after item due to its remarkable ability to age, attracting a cult-like reputation as well as top prices when it has been for sale at special occasions, such as the Nederburg Auction.

“The fact that this 23 year old Chardonnay has built-up a following among discerning wine lovers proves that pedigree and reputation play – and will continue to play – a major role in the recognition of any wine,” says Johann de Wet, co-owner of De Wetshof Estate.

“Finesse 1993 was the wine that won my father, Danie, the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year Award in 1995, so it has always held a special place in our cellar,” says De Wet.  “It has always expressed site and place magnificently. When my father began teaching myself and my brother Peter about Chardonnay and De Wetshof’s vineyards, this was the wine he would use to illustrate the importance of terroir-driven winemaking.”

The De Wetshof Finesse originates from a vineyard characterised by rocky gravel soils rich in limestone but with a significant clay component which assists in the soils’ water-retention capacity. This clay character also helps the vines to develop strong citrus flavours with a pronounced nuttiness on the mid-palate which leads through to a clean finish with zesty citrus notes.

“The limestone component in the soils plays a major role in the Chardonnay’s ability to age, and the Finesse 1993 has aged beautifully,” says De Wet. “After all these years the colour is still clear and bright, and the flavours complex, vivid and fresh.  This wine is a true tribute to the aging potential of South African Chardonnay, which I believe deserves greater recognition.

“Although the wine won’t be seen on the market again, we still have a few bottles to remind ourselves what a great wine it is. I hope that our supporters who have bought it over the years will enjoy the wine. It is very special.” says De Wet.

Roland Peens from the Wine Cellar says: “The 1993 is really a special wine in our history. Not only did it prove how exceptional Chardonnay was at a very early point in our fine wine history, but also just how well Cape Chardonnay can age. In comparison to vintage white Burgundy it is still undervalued and this is a great wine to have in the secondary market. “