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A South African wine story: Bouchard Finlayson Winery

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Our South Africa wine adventures took us to Bouchard Finlayson Winery, a boutique winery in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The winery is located 120 km. from Cape Town on the Hermanus Wine Route. This wine route is one of South Africa’s most picturesque. The area has a cool maritime climate, which makes it perfect for the production of varietals, such as Pinot Noir. Before visiting South Africa I had asked for recommendations of wineries to visit. I did get many useful recommendations. From the five Hemel-en-Aarde Valley recommendations that I received I was delighted to visit Bouchard Finlayson Winery, to discover its unique South African wine story.

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Discovering Bouchard Finlayson Winery

Known for its Pinot Noir the winery also produces other wine varietals, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Mourvedre and Barbera. The winery was founded in 1989, as a joint venture between Paul Bouchard of Burgundy and South African winemaker, Peter Finlayson. Finlayson has been described as South Africa’s pioneer of the Pinot Noir grape. The first modern day winemaker in the valley he has also been credited with being instrumental for putting this wine region on the map. James Molesworth, writing for the Wine Spectator notes that before establishing the winery Finlayson established his reputation, as a winemaker at the nearby Hamilton Russel Winery. In recent years the Tollman family has acquired Bouchard Finlayson Winery. Finlayson has now assumed the role of General Manager and Winemaker for the winery.

When we arrived at the winery we drove to the tasting room at the top of the hill, overlooking the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. We were so lucky that day to have had our wine tasting in the barrel room. It was a special treat to taste the wines in this setting. While we were wine tasting the winemaker dropped by and spent some time with us. During our conversation with Finlayson he credits the success of Hemel-en-Aarde Valley wines to the passion that the winemakers in the area bring to winemaking.

We very much enjoyed the Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noirs and the whites we tasted, especially the Chardonnays. It is no doubt that the winery makes a great Pinot Noir, as noted by the accolades that Bouchard Finlayson's Pinot Noir wines have received (a Gold Medal at 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards, for the Pinot Noir Tete De Cuvee 2010). The Hannibal 2012 Italian /French blend of 39% Sangiovese, 35% Pinot Noir, 26% (Nebbiolo, Shiraz, Barbera, and Mourverde) however, was also quite good. It is not surprising to discover that the winery received at Gold Medal at 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards for the Hannibal 2009. Bouchard Finlayson wines are available in the US and worldwide.

After our wine tasting we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the front patio area overlooking the vineyards and the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Yes, it was a perfect picnic lunch that day overlooking the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. CNN Travel has recognized the stunning beauty of this wine region. The other winery recommendations for this area included Ataraxia, Creation, Hamilton Russel and La Vierge. I invite you to join me in my travels in South Africa and elsewhere in search of the best in Spaswinefood. You may also visit my travel column at the Examiner

© Sharon Parsons

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