The Heritage of South African Wine: Louisvale’s Chardonnay Shines Through

As fans of Louisvale Wines, you probably already know that Louisvale is known as the pioneer of Chardonnay in South Africa. But how much do you really know about our flagship wine and it’s rich heritage? In honour of Heritage Day, here’s just a little peek at the origins and development of these spectacular local wines.

It’s no secret- from tourists to locals- that the Stellenbosch Wine Route is among the best in the world. It’s not just a beautiful tour through some of the Cape’s most gorgeous landscapes, however, it’s also a celebration of the spot South Africa has come to occupy in the wine world globally… and our acclaimed local Chardonnays play a key role in that rise to fame. Here’s a peek into the world of Chardonnay at Louisvale, and how this fascinating cultivar came to occupy so much space in the hearts of South Africans and the world.

Enter the pioneers of Chardonnay in South Africa

You may wonder why Lousivale itself is so bold as to claim to be the ‘pioneers’ of Chardonnay’ in South Africa. The answer is very simple- we were literally one of the very first farms to grow Chardonnay grapes, and to focus on this specific wine, with its light taste of citrus and melon. Even today, the farm remains wholly planted out with Davis clone cultivars. It is, we believe, the perfect wine for the hot South African climate, and perfect for so many of the diverse dishes that make the country’s cuisine so special.

It sounds like a mundane start, but believe us, it wasn’t! Part of the incentive to develop a truly South African Chardonnay came from the deep frustrations of the local wine lovers and farmers. In the bloom of the 1970s, import rates from France had slowed to a trickle- and South African wine lovers had had enough! A small group of farmers started smuggling in cuttings and vines, using uncharted transports and even concealing them to carry through customs.

These illicit beginnings soon flourished into a rich and varied- if still very young- culture of Chardonnay. So much so, that not so long ago you would find ‘ABC’ clubs littering the South African wine scene- Anything But Chardonnay.

Despite our deep affection for this delicious wine, we do have to admit that the Chardonnays of the era were heavily wooded, and an acquired taste for sure. That’s part of loving this unique wine, however- you have to have a love and passion for the cultivar to last through the many trends and phases we’ve seen come and go.

With expert assistance from Niel Ellis, however, Louisvale had taken the first steps to dominating the Chardonnay cultivar in South Africa, as well as bolstering the first tentative leaps in wine making for South Africa as a whole. An art we’ve perfected over the resulting years.

Louisvale Wines – the daily nitty-gritty that brings you your favourite tastes

Of course, life on the estate isn’t just about theories and history- it’s about the art of Chardonnay too. That’s why the Louisvale estate believes hand harvesting is the best way to usher our grapes from vine to vat. Not only does this allow us full quality control, giving us the ability to select only the best grapes, it also helps prevent contamination or foreign debris entering the baskets.

Despite these exacting quality control methods, the Louisvale Wine Estate still manages to turn out around 30 000 bottles a year across our three Chardonnays. There’s also, of course, the Chardonnay crops used for the MCC.

Curious as to what this careful care and attention bring the taster? Our three Chardonnays each use different harvest times and vat techniques to bring three unique tastes to the table. Our Louisvale Unwooded Chardonnay brings a modern, fresh take on winemaking to the table, using stainless steel vats to produce the crisp, light taste. Louisvale Chavant represents the epitome of balance, using stainless steel tank fermentation to prime the wine before ageing in 2nd and 3rd filled French Oak barrels for 4 months. If you’re looking for a more classic Chardonnay, however, you’re bound to adore the flagship Louisvale Chardonnay, 100% barrel Fermented in 1st fill French Oak.

What dishes pair perfectly with the Louisvale Chardonnays?

With the Food at Louisvale restaurant on-sight, it’s hardly a surprise that we take our wine pairings seriously, too! Half of the Art of Chardonnay is pairing it with a delicious feast that it will complement and enhance with its subtle mouthfeel and crisp endnotes. It may be tempting to look to France for your flavours, as the original home of the Chardonnay grape, but here in South Africa there’s utterly no need. So many of our delectable local dishes pair beautifully with this very special wine. If you’re looking for an ideal party pairing, you’ll never be disappointed with:

  • Fragrant Bobotie-spiced chicken risotto with apricots, walnuts, raisins and coriander
  • Curried sheep tripe with samp risotto, spinach, roast butternut and pickled peppers
  • Our Ou Kaapse Chicken Pie, with paprika-roasted potatoes and crisp cucumber salad

Each of these dishes are available from Foods at Louisvale, and we’ve even shared a secret or two on our blog for you to try at home, too.

Louisvale isn’t just a key part of the Stellenbosch Wine Route– it’s the home of Chardonnay in South Africa. As to why Chardonnay maintains it’s deep-seated spot in the South African heart? We believe no one said it better than Dom Perignon in his famous words, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars.”

Let the art of Chardonnay woo you- experience the Louisvale difference, and fall in love with this delectable, 100% South African Chardonnay this Heritage Day.