Ask wine lovers about South African wine regions and chances are many would do the obvious and talk about the Boland – Stellenbosch and Paarl, possibly Franschhoek. I’m guilty myself of giving the cooler coastal wine regions less attention. Rather shortsighted of course, because these regions produce exceptional wines. The Hemel-en-Aarde valley close to Hermanus is one of our cooler coastal stars, and La Vierge winery a shining example of what can be achieved in this terroir.

The valley is the home of premium South African Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and while La Vierge does produce other wines, their speciality is these classic Burgundy wines that are so at home in the region’s cool, maritime climate and clay-rich soils.

I first discovered La Vierge ten years go when taking a meandering drive through the Hemel-en-Aarde. It’s high up in the valley and offers a wonderful tasting experience with one of the best vistas you could hope for. Relax on their large outside terrace and you’ll be blown away by the views of the valley below and Walker Bay in the distance.

I still remember those views all these years later. What I had forgotten is just how special their wines are, so I was delighted to be reminded recently when the folks from La Vierge sent me a bottle of their Jezebelle Chardonnay and The Affair Pinot Noir to taste. I was blown away. But don’t take my word for it, take the word of the experts who judged them in the recent Investec Trophy Wine Show.

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La Vierge Jezebelle Chardonnay

La Vierge Jezebelle Chardonnay 2021 – 97 POINTS

The panel of local and international judges awarded La Vierge’s 2021 Jezebelle Chardonnay an astonishing 97 points, just one point behind the overall Chardonnay trophy winner. It was one of only 29 gold medallists from more than 670 entries and the only Chardonnay from the Hemel-en-Aarde appellation to have scored a gold medal. “We are especially excited about this recognition for our two flagship wines because the Trophy Wine Show is known not only for the high calibre of the local and international judges, but also its rigorous judging procedure which means the judges are very frugal in awarding medals. A Trophy Wine Show gold medal is hard-won and something our whole team can be really proud of,” says La Vierge winemaker Christo Kotze.

La Vierge’s Jezebelle is not a one-hit wonder either, it has built up a strong track record of recognition from respected critics, publications and competitions over the past few vintages:

  • Platter gave it a 4.5 star rating for both the 2019 and 2020 vintages
  • It scored a Top 10 place in the Winemag Chardonnay Reports for both the 2019 and 2020 vintages
  • The 2020 vintage received a Michelangelo Double Gold, and got 90 points from Tim Atkin
  • And then there’s the 91 points from Decanter for its 2019 vintage.

Impressive stuff indeed. The Jezebelle Chardonnay is blended from six different vineyards on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge and matured on the lees in Burgundian oak for 8 months before blending and bottling. The wine is zippy and textured on the palate, with aromatic lime, white floral and stone fruit on the nose, and a maritime-mineral character. It’s complex with a wonderfully long tail and a prime example of just what South African Chardonnay can be in the right terroir and the right hands. The Jezebelle 2021 is available direct from the La Vierge cellar or online shop at R170.

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La Vierge The Affair Pinot Noir

La Vierge The Affair Pinot Noir 2021 – 92 POINTS

Receiving an impressive 92 points from the Tropy Wine Show judges, La Vierge’s The Affair Pinot Noir is also the only Pinot Noir from the Hemel-en-Aarde appellation to have scored more than 90 points in this prestigious annual wine show. The Affair showcases the love affair between Pinot Noir’s soft, feminine side in silky texture and floral notes, and the masculine, linear strength of refined tannins and dark, brooding forest floor aromas. The wine is matured in French oak for 9 months and allowed to develop further in bottle before release.

The Affair’s track record of accolades over multiple vintages includes:

  • Platter’s awarded both the 2019 and 2020 vintages four stars
  • The 2019 vintage also got: Veritas Gold, Vitis Vinifera Gold, and Gold & Value Awards in The Merit Awards

Complex and lingering, this is not an easy quaffer for the braai. It’s a brilliant food wine to bring out on a special occasion. Get it online or at the cellar at R180 per bottle.

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About this article: I only write about places and things I actually really like. Should I receive complimentary meals/tickets/diamonds, this will always be revealed. I’m not in the rubbishing business, so if something is not my cup of tea, I’ll simply not write about it (but I’ll keep the diamonds). Therefore this is not so much a review, as a personal recommendation of places and things I like.

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