There aren’t many properties in South Africa that can proudly invite you to celebrate their 35th vintage of Pinot noir, so when the invitation from Hamilton Russell Vineyards landed in my inbox, I jumped at the chance. The Hamilton Russells do things in style, and this event was certainly getting people talking.
Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell have a wonderful brand of wine marketing. They will never try to sell you a bottle of their wine. They just invite you to a party and give you a glass of their wine to drink. And once you’ve savoured that one, another one miraculously appears. By the end of the evening, you would walk over broken glass for a bottle of their wine.
Hosted at the beautiful 54 on Bath hotel in Rosebank, we weren’t invited to taste all 35 vintages (we aren’t super human after all), but we were treated to a decade of the latest vintages.
Each of the five courses was paired with two different vintages, poured in Riedel glasses. It was pure sensory overload: beautiful wine, beautiful food, beautiful surroundings, beautiful people.
We started with the 2005 vintage, which had tannins like velvet slippers, and was paired with a grilled brinjal dish with roasted garlic and ras al hanout lentils. The next two wines were served with beef carpaccio, cherry textures and pink pepper. It’s astonishing how different two vintages can be when they’re only 12 months apart. The 2007 and 2008 were equally delicious, but opposite in their flavour profiles: one with clean fruit purity and the other with a masculine meatiness.
The 2010 was without a doubt my favourite. It had the perfect amount of age while still exhibiting its youthful power. It was paired with a roasted miso duck, with ramen noodles and pear, carrot and orange purée.
The 2011 and 2012 were paired with crispy sweetbreads with the final two reds: 2013 and 2104 with a braised lamb shoulder with smoked onion and blackberries. Of course, there was a cheese selection to complete the evening with a selection of vintages of the Hamilton Russell Chardonnay.
The Hamilton Russell Vineyards vertical case of 5 from 2010-2014 is available from the farm.