When Craig Wessels isn't working for his animation and design agency or directing films, he and his wife Anne can be found making Restless River wines on their tiny farm in Hemel-en-Arde, located near the fishing village of Hermanus. They bought the only plot of land they could afford and have slowly transformed it into a 5-star rated winery in Platter's guide. Armed with the coolest climate on the cape, self-taught confidence, tattoos, biker t-shirts, a couple of amphoras from Tuscany and a restless drive to experiment and learn, the Wessels family are producing come of South Africa's most exciting wines. They farm as naturally as possible, and believe the grapes develop depth and complexity through struggle. As a result, yields are low, taking off the few tons that the weather, birds, baboons and Kwezi (the grape-loving dog) kindly leave behind. Yet the wine produced is spectacular.
Grapes picked in four or five batches over 10 days for extra complexity and balance. Juiced treated oxidatively before spontaneous fermentation and maturation lasting 11 months in French oak, only 5% new. The chardonnay is sophisticated and elegant. A subtle and elusive nose – not very much primary fruit in evidence but some lemon and white peach if you use your imagination while there’s also an appealing biscuit-like quality plus both some flintiness and earthiness. The palate is lean, fresh with a very long, salty finish. A triumph of understatement and now starting to take its place among the Cape's best. A delicate use of oak, combined with ripe fruit and a fresh acidity ensures a well balanced, enjoy this with most foods including cheeses.
Five pickings from single-vineyard, natural ferment in oak, aged in mix of barrel, amphora, stainless steel. 2017 has thrilling tension, purity & complexity in spice-edged, ripe lime flavours. Texture is as important; density, fine grip, ensure a long lifespan.