Last week I was kindly invited to visit Hamilton Russell Vineyards in Hermanus, along with a group of students from Wharton Business School’s Lauder program. Anthony Hamilton Russell, the owner of the wine farm, is an alum of Wharton and invited these students to learn about the business side of winemaking.
The winery is famous for producing Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are ‘the most Burgundian outside of France,’ which Mr. Hamilton Russell attributes to the clay soils on which he’s planted these vines. Francophile that I am, normally I’m quite skeptical when someone asserts that their wines stand up to those of France, especially when it comes to Pinot Noir, but after a vertical tasting of the 2010, 2009, 2008 Pinots and the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Chardonnays, I am a believer. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that they perfectly replicate the Burgundian style, but I thought they were incredibly elegant but earthy, fruity but restrained, balanced Pinot Noirs, which is exactly the style I love.
After the tasting the Hamilton Russells invited us up to their home at the top of the farm, pictured above, for an extravagant afternoon of wine, lunch, and amazing views (the only downside was when their pet tortoise tried to ram himself into me).