Bouchard Finlayson was established in
1989 in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in Hermanus in South Africa. The
estate lies around 90 minutes from Cape town and, while it covers 125
hectares, currently has 25 hectares under vine.
Apparently, they get quite a bit of monkey damage to the grapes: I was
told that this is now controlled by a leopard. I'm not sure if that was
a joke or not!
coastline of Hermanus means that the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is one of
the Cape's coolest vine-growing regions: it can be 10 degrees
cooler at midday than in Stellenbosch.
The estate specialises in pinot noir,
chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, but also has South Africa's first
plantings of the Italian varieties, nebbiolo and sangiovese.
The flagship wine is probably the Galpin Peak Pinot Noir (Galpin Peak
is part of the mountain range surrounding the valley). This
particularly tasting focussed on the Galpin Peak pinot noir, and the
Italian dominated blend, Hannibal. Normally in any tasting, you'd
taste pinot noir before other reds, as pinot is usually the lightest of
red wines, but it was good decision to taste the more Italianate
Hannibal first, as, while not strictly heavier (or lighter), the Galpin
Peak was much more concentrated.
2016 Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal
A blend of 45% sangiovese, 18% pinot noir, 15% nebbiolo, 12% shiraz, 7% mourvedre and 3% barbera.
A very attractive nose: lots of cherry and red fruit with some earthiness.
Deep, but very young palate. Good ripe fruit, but not in the slightest bit jammy. 91/100
2006 Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal
There are still five varieties involved in the blend for the 2006
Hannibal, with sangiovese making up the largest element (34%), along
with 31% petite syrah, 20% pinot noir, 13% nebbiolo, and 2% mourvedre.
A really rich, complex nose. Tight rich red and blackcurrant fruit, and a slight hint of sous bois on the finish.
Nice weight and even a richness on the palate. Very smooth. Good
complexity and great length. Very fine finish. Very elegant. 93/100
2004 Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal
2004 had a very long winter, and a very dry summer, especially at
harvest. This is a blend of 35% sangiovese, 25% pinot noir, 10% shiraz,
10% nebbiolo, 5% mourvedre, and 5% barbera.
A nicely mature nose, showing a marked evolution on the 2006.
Elegant, perfumed mature red fruit. Some chocolate richness too - but just a hint. The lightness of maturity is very evident.
Really rather classy. It has quite a distinctive character, but all
those Italian varieties in the blend mean that I'd not immediately
guess this was South African. 95/100
2016 Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Galpin Peak
11 months in French oak.
Sweet, ripe, red fruit on the nose, with some mushroomy earthiness. A touch overripe?
Attractive, open palate. Lots and lots of red fruit, but tending to
more darker fruit than French or Kiwi pinot noir, and there's a curious
woody spice (cinnamon?) on the finish. There's a slight spirituosity on
the palate too that I find distracting. 88/100
2015 Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Galpin Peak
2015 was a better vintage than 2016, and it shows in the bottle.
On the nose, the fruit is less ripe, and there's none of the hint of
overripeness I found on the 2016. Red fruits, maybe some cherry.
Super palate. Much less nervy on the palate than the 2016. Some minerality breaking through.
Very impressive. 92/100
2004 Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Galpin Peak
Fascinating, evolved nose. Red fruit, but with some obvious leathery notes.
Lovely palate. Freshness followed by fruit followed by more freshness -
almost iodiney. Lovely texture. Classy finish. A treat. 94/100