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Crocodile’s Lair Chardonnay, Bouchard Finlayson

Bouchard Finlayson
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Technical Analysis
Alcohol
13.6
Residual sugar
2.2
pH
3.26
Acidity
7.1
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
The Crocodile's Lair vineyard is located 700m above sea level, ripens a month later than others and benefits enormously from cool autumn temperatures.
Tasting note

Initially reveals sun-dried hay, peachy stone fruit and a dusting of toasted almond shavings. The hallmark creamy citrus fruit flavours build in volume towards a succulent and effortless textural finish. Remains refined and delicate in nature by a balanced tension.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Chardonnay
Malolactic Fermentation
Yes
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Chris Albrecht
Fining Agent
Bentonite
Closure
Cork
Region
Kaaimansgat
Vegan
Yes

Vintage conditions

Cold and exceedingly wet conditions occurred during flowering and berry set late in 2021, pushing the onset of the harvest season ever later. The ripening season during January 2022 however, saw some of the hottest and driest conditions that have been recorded over the past seven years; the rainfall received for this period was atypically low. This allowed for a long, healthy ripening of a concentrated crop. Minimal disease pressure and dilution resulted in the production of fruit of an outstanding quality, in which full phenolic ripeness and refreshingly low natural sugar accumulation was expressed.

Vinification details

Picking is done by hand and the grapes chilled overnight, before being delivered to the cellar early the following morning. The pneumatic bag presses are loaded with whole bunches and pressed with multiples rotations, during the three-hour cycle. Fermentation occur in barrel and initiate spontaneously by indigenous yeast populations. The wine matured in French oak for 8 months, with a 23% new component. Bottling in January 2023, the first in amber or dead leaf bottles, adding an additional layer of protection against light degradation.

 

Tasting video

With winemaker Chris Albrecht.

AWARDS
IWC 2024 Silver
IWC - Silver
Technical Analysis
Alcohol
13.5
Residual sugar
2.1
pH
3.27
Acidity
6.3
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
The Crocodile's Lair vineyard is located 700m above sea level, ripens a month later than others and benefits enormously from cool autumn temperatures.
Tasting note

Excellently presented aromas of melon and nectarine underlay a vibrant and pronounced lemon zest and baking spice combination. The texture is rich and voluminous, but balanced by a compelling acidity. Incredible length on the palate.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Chardonnay
Malolactic Fermentation
Yes
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Chris Albrecht
Fining Agent
Bentonite
Closure
Cork
Region
Kaaimansgat
Vegan
Yes

Vintage conditions

It’s been remarked before how the weather, during recent odd vintages, seems to behave to the benefit of local vintners. 2021 followed this pattern of 2019, 2017 and 2015. Yields varied significantly between cultivars and apart from  big rain event on 14 March, dry and cool conditions prevailed during picking. Phenolic ripeness out performed sugar accumulation in the berries, resulting in juices with low potential alcohol and balanced natural acidities.

Vinification details

Fermentation occur in barrel and initiated spontaneously by indigenous yeast populations. Maintaining temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius is key in the preservation of fruit freshness. Bottled in January 2022 follows a 2 month resting period in tank.

 

Tasting video

With winemaker Chris Albrecht.

Technical Analysis
Alcohol
13.6
Residual sugar
2.6
pH
3.43
Acidity
5.6
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
The Crocodile's Lair vineyard is located 700m above sea level, ripens a month later than others and benefits enormously from cool autumn temperatures.
Tasting note

Lush mineral spice and stone fruit blossom at the fore. Explosive lime-infused flavours of green apple are amplified by a precise energy. Gentle touch of candied ginger and toast. Vivacious and lasting finish.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Chardonnay
Malolactic Fermentation
Partial
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Chris Albrecht
Fining Agent
Bentonite
Closure
Cork
Region
Kaaimansgat
Vegan
Yes

Vintage conditions

Spring 2019 saw ideal weather conditions during flower and fruit set, heightening expectations for the upcoming vintage. However, hopes were soon challenged by the atypical and unstable weather presented early in the New Year. Fortunately, dry conditions set in as soon as harvest commenced, with the crop remaining healthy. Volumes recovered slightly from the light 2019 vintage and all-round, unexpectedly positive, fruit-quality was delivered to the cellar

Vinification details

This remote vineyard is planted to Chardonnay clones 76 and 95 – each expressing the site in their own unique way. Once the juices are liberated from the berries, it is left to settle for 10 hours in tank, without the addition of any enzymes. This juice, still containing a fair amount of solids, are transferred to barrel for fermentation. These solids impact the sensory profile and improve mouthfeel. Aiming for increased fruit focus, our traditional 228L barrels are now complemented by a number of 350L barrels. The final blend is racked to tank, following eight month’s maturation and bottled in January 2021.

 

Tasting video

With winemaker Chris Albrecht.

Technical Analysis
Alcohol
13.5
Residual sugar
2.6
pH
3.43
Acidity
5.6
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
The Crocodile's Lair vineyard is located 700m above sea level, ripens a month later than others and benefits enormously from cool autumn temperatures.
Tasting note

Stunning initial aromas of spice intertwined effortlessly with citrus blossom and zest. Perfectly balanced textural richness is delivered with integrated oak support. The palate is refreshed by a persistent oyster-shell coated finish.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Chardonnay
Malolactic Fermentation
Partial
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Chris Albrecht
Fining Agent
Bentonite
Closure
Cork
Region
Walker Bay
Vegan
Yes

Vintage conditions

Vintage 2019 will long be remembered for the raging wild fire that swept across the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley on the 11th January – less than three weeks before the first grapes were picked. Bouchard were fortunate not to be majorly impacted and brought in a healthy, yet slightly lighter crop. The reduced yield being the result of milder than normal winter temperatures. Weather conditions remained cool and relatively dry throughout February and March.

Vinification details

Bunches are added to the press intact and the juices extracted from the berries by long and gentle pressing, yielding more clarity and flavour complexities. Fermentation occurs in oak barrels varying in age between new and fifth fill and typically lasts for a week. Thereafter, depending on vintage needs, a proportion of the barrels are prevented from completing malo-lactic fermentation, thus retaining palate freshness and gaining fruit focus. The final blend is racked from barrel following eight months maturation without any stirring of the lees and bottled with a light filtration.

 

AWARDS

IWC & IWSC: Gold
Tim Atkin MW: 94 pts

Tasting video

With winemaker Chris Albrecht.

Technical Analysis
Alcohol
13.7
Residual sugar
2.9
pH
3.38
Acidity
6.0
Download Specification Sheet Download Full Size Images
The Crocodile's Lair vineyard is located 700m above sea level, ripens a month later than others and benefits enormously from cool autumn temperatures.
Tasting note

Sleek and refined, a most enjoyable spicy lemon drop aroma announces white peach, nectarine and pear on the palate. A refreshing salinity graces a lasting finish.

Origin
South Africa
Variety
Chardonnay
Malolactic Fermentation
Partial
Bottle Size
75cl
Vegetarian
Yes
Winemaker
Chris Albrecht
Closure
Cork
Region
Overberg
Vegan
Yes

Vintage conditions

Yet another low yielding vintage from this very consistent vineyard. Fruit health however proved to be excellent with the smaller bunches providing great flavour concentration. The first pick was as early as the last day in February and continued over the next two weeks.

Vinification details

Bunches were added to the press intact and the juices extracted from the berries by long and gentle pressing, yielding more clarity and flavour complexities. Fermentation took place in oak barrels varying in age between new and fifth fill and typically lasted for a week. Thereafter, a proportion of the barrels were prevented from completing malolactic fermentation, thus retaining palate freshness and gaining fruit focus. The final blend was racked from barrel following eight months’ maturation without any stirring of the lees and bottled with a light filtration.

 

AWARDS

Tim Atkin MW: 93 pts
DWWA: Silver
IWSC: Silver

Tasting video

With winemaker Chris Albrecht.