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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Restless River Ava Marietext
95POINTS
18/20

Restless River Ava Marie 2018

Hemel-En-Aarde Valley, Hermanus, Walker Bay, Overberg, South AfricaRestless River is a small, but mighty, family-owned winery in the cool Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Hundreds of years ago, the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley was known as Attacquas Kloof. In 1760 the elder, Wessel Wessels arrived with his family and set up home. Some historians say it was Wessel who called the valley 'Hemel-en-Aarde'. What is known for sure is that old man Wessels was the first European of settler descent to live in and farm the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Fast forward a few hundred years, when husband and wife Craig and Anne Wessels started planting part of the farm in 2004, launching the Restless River label in 2012 to continual critical acclaim. They have truly made a name for themselves, and the cool climate, higher altitude Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, with world-class wines like this. The farm has some of the oldest Cabernet sauvignon and Chardonnay in the Hemel-en-Aarde, with vines first planted in 1999. This Chardonnay bears the name of its single 2.06 hectare vineyard, named after their daughter. The slopes are south and east facing, with shallow top soils with iron-rich rocks and sandy gravels over decomposed granite clays. This was whole bunch pressed, settled overnight, and then native fermented into various sized French barrels (7% new) as well as two terracotta amphora, from Tuscany. Post ferment, this rested on lees for 11 months prior to moving to stainless for a 3 month tightening stint prior to bottling. Once in bottle, this rested for 18 months prior to release. Alluring from first flint-kissed whiff, this chardonnay is riveting with ample salinity, lemon, wild herbs and fresh hazelnuts racing the length of the finessed palate. The chiselled structure comes easily via the granitic soils and altitude, guided by gentle handling in the winery. The finish lingers long with light toast and ample mouthwatering salinity. Such a stunner, and up there with top chardonnay made anywhere. 9342 bottles made.Tasted: 09 August 2021Tasted by: Treve RingProducer: Restless RiverDistributors: Le Sommelier Inc.
Grape: Chardonnay