Hamilton Russell Vineyards

Owner(s) Tim Hamilton Russell
Web site www.hamiltonrussellvineyards.co.za
 
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Hamilton Russell Vineyards have been making wines in the cool-climate Walker Bay region southeast of Capetown, South Africa since the early 1980s, and in that time has carved out a reputation for producing wines that straddle the old and new worlds. Tim Hamilton Russell was chairman of one of South Africa's leading advertising companies when he purchased a run down property in 1975. Only two varieties are grown: there are 55 acres of Pinot Noir, and 75 acres of Chardonnay. Hamilton Russell was the first wine estate planted in Walker Bay, founded by Tim Hamilton Russell in 1975. Recent vineyard improvement (the old Champagne clones of Pinot Noir have gradually been replaced with better vines) is paying off with an increase in quality of the Pinot Noir.

The winemaker is Hannes Storm. Hamilton Russel has now expanded to include a second label – Southern Right – to produce a varietal Pinotage, and a Chenin Blanc-based white. The wines are exported to the United States. The Pinot Noirs have not caught my fancy, seemingly very earthy and rustic, but they have fans among Burgundian aficionados.

Reviewed Wines

2007 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Hemel-En-Aarde Valley, Hermanus, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

13.5% alc., 5,213 cases, $37. This is a well respected producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that has received considerable praise from the wine press and retail marketplace. One wine seller recently exclaimed “Rivals the greatest Pinot Noirs of the world.” I can only shake my head at such a remark for I have tasted multiple vintages of this wine through the years and never been impressed. This vintage is no exception. Grown, produced, and bottled at the Estate. Aged 10 months in French oak ranging in age from one to four years old. · The nose is replete with loamy earth, oak and smoke with no fruit. Woody and chemical tasting on the palate with a moderately light core of tart cherry and berry fruit finishing with a rush of tannins. Tastes like a passable Bourgogne wine. Decent (-). Based on favorable reviews in the wine press, I must assume this was a bad bottle. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir South Africa

14.0% alc., $28. · Deep reddish-purple in color. The nose exhibits dark raspberry fruit, smoke, char and a hint of sulfur. Generous woody and green flavors accompany a core of dark and chewy soil-dusted Pinot fruits. Fine-grain tannins create a silky texture. A Nuits-St.-Georges-inspired wine with plenty of mother earth influence. Reviewed May 7, 2008 ARTICLE »

2002 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir South Africa

13.5% alc.. · Menthol, marzipan, cedar and cassis compose the aromas. Redder fruits are featured, with a prominent woody and tobacco influence. The tannins are powdery and the wine holds admirable balance. Reviewed May 7, 2008 ARTICLE »