This small winery was established in 2007 by brothers Peter-Allan and Andrew Finlayson. Their father, Peter, was a pioneer in the production of cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Bouchard Finlayson, so after university, it seemed the natural thing for the boys to return home and source some fruit from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley to start their own label. Today, Crystallum is one of the most highly regarded wineries in South Africa and is at the forefront of the ‘New Wave’ movement. Peter-Allan is always on the lookout for new vineyards and with each vintage, he strives to make even better wines. The winemaking has evolved over the years and all of the wines are now wild fermented and the use of new oak has been reduced to help the bright fruit shine through.
The single-vineyard 'Clay Shales' is in a cool-climate area just outside the Hemel-en-Aarde, which gives the wine lovely acid and balance, while the wild yeast fermentation gives superb texture. This is certainly one of South Africa’s best Chardonnays.
The 'Peter Max' is made from fruit drawn from four different vineyards, two in the Hemel-en-Aarde, one near Clay Shales and one outside Villiersdorp. Peter-Allan uses about 30 - 40% whole bunch, all wild ferment and a fairly long maceration to give a wine with lifted aromatics, lovely grainy tannins, good balance and length.
Once a location for a film based on the life of Napoleon, the 'Cuvée Cinema' vineyard produces intense, ageworthy Pinot Noir from Dijon clones, with aromas of sour cherry, musk, forest floor and flint.
'Mabalel' is named after a poem by the legendary South African polymath Eugene Marais, which tells the story of a local chieftain’s daughter of the same name who was ambushed while fetching water from the Limpopo River by the crocodile, Lalele. The vineyard is planted on ‘Kaaimansgat’ farm - meaning Crocodile’s lair - and a river flows past the vineyard. The site is 700m high and surrounded by dramatic mountains, with peaks that are often snow-capped in winter. Lighter and more delicate than the other Crystallum Pinot Noirs with aromas of cherry, plum, blackcurrant and dark chocolate.
The 'Litigo' on the nose is subtle but alluring with mulberry and pomegranate alongside intense floral notes and a light peaty smokiness in the background. A palate of bright red fruits, sweet spice and olive tapenade add body and complexity. With fine tannins and a medium acidity, this is a fresh and vibrant wine accessible early but suitable for ageing through 2025.
This 'Whole-Bunch' Pinot Noir has lifted aromas of wild strawberry, white pepper, and earthy, mushroom notes. The palate is textured and grippy with cherry, blueberries and blackberries alongside fennel and some green pepper from the stems. The robust tannin and crisp acidity support the texture of the fruit profile.