The 2019 Ava Marie is a very impressive creation indeed. While many of the earlier vintages were a little more honied and resinous quite early in their evolution, the last few vintages have firmly moved in a direction that favours textural tension and a stonier minerality led by aromatics loaded with smoky, flinty, struck match reduction nuances, waxy lemon peel, wet chalk and subtle oat meal leesy notes. On the palate there is a very keen line of acidity together with an ample, fleshy, yellow citrus fruit freshness that boast layers of pithy yellow grapefruit, lemon cordial, crunchy white peaches and hints of sophisticated wet river pebble liquid minerality. One of Craig’s most Burgundian expressions to date, this wine combines fabulous tension with sublime balance. If you are a Chardonnay lover, not a liker, track this one down while you can. Drink now and over the next 8 to 10 years. 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW
Ava Marie Vineyard
Our farm is situated in the cooler Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The soils are granite based, and our vineyards are positioned mid slope at an elevation of 850ft. The cold South Atlantic Ocean is 5km away and acts as a giant air-conditioner. This chardonnay bears the name of its vineyard, 2.06ha in size, and is registered as a Single Vineyard. Slopes are south and east facing. Shallow top soils vary from iron rich rocks to a light sandy gravel. Below this is decomposed granite clay.
Specific parcels were hand-picked over a period of three weeks in February. The grapes were immediately fed, whole bunch, into our old Vaslin press. After a gentle four hour squeeze, the oxidised juice was settled overnight, then racked into a variety of different sized French oak barrels (7% new). and two terracota amphora, unlined, made in Tuscany. Natural fermentation took up to 30 days, after which sulphur was added for the first time and the wine was aged, sur lie for 11 months. The wine was given a light fining before being racked into a stainless steel tank, where it rested for a further three months before bottling. The wine was then bottle aged at 14 Celsius for 18 months before release.