The Lions River Chardonnay from the Highgate Wine Estate in the Kwazulu Natal Midlands was the the first certified Chardonnay to be produced in Kwazulu Natal in the history of wine making in South Africa.
Despite popular opinion that the Western Cape is the only South African region capable of successfully producing wines, Highgate achieved a first with the release of their quality Chardonnay. The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands provides a different climate to that of other wine growing regions in South Africa, thus producing a Chardonnay with unique flavours and character.
Our Chardonnay is definitely not a clone of other wines; it has a character and personality that is distinct with our climate and soils. Our grapes are grown in heavy soils in a new wine region of South Africa and that distinctiveness also translates into the bottle.
The certification process from the South African Wine Information System (SAWIS) is stringent and obtaining qualification is a rigorous undertaking. To receive approval, wine has to go through a panel of tasters and laboratory tests before being approved and certified. There is a great future for wine producing farms in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Highgate Wine Estates is a pioneer in this region of red and white wines.
Highgate is definitely part of the successful development of wine growers in this area and is proud to be a contributor to the growth of employment and the popular tourism route along the Midlands.
Other grape varieties grown on Highgate Wine Estate are Shiraz, Pinotage, Merlot and for the first time Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Colour 3 out of 5
- Nose 5 out of 7
- Taste 8 out of 10
- Total 16 out of 20 = 4 Star (Excellent wine of distinction)
Good light straw colour with a citric lemony nose.
On the Palate: Citrus/Pineapple with some wood vanilla scents followed by a slightly dry, fresh finish, unmistakably chardonnay.
This is a good, well balanced wine which should go down well with wine drinkers.
The history of Highgate dates back to the days when the last lion was shot in the area. The first Polo Field was on Highgate Farm and has since relocated to the neighbouring property. Highgate was purchased by Rudi and Cindy Kassier in 1996. The property lay fallow and was then changed into a vegetable producing farm.
Always being interested in wine production, Rudi took the opportunity, in conjunction with Cedara Agricultural College, to assist with research on growing grapes in the Natal Midlands. In 2005 a 1ha trial of various varieties was planted. The main varieties being Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz. Being in a different climatic region to the Cape made the growing and maintaining of the vines more challenging. KZN being a summer rainfall area and the soils of different types and quality to the Cape, brought their own challenges.
In 2009 Wal Bornheimer joined Rudi to make the first vintage. Rudi and Wal attended a course at the Stellenbosch University before attempting to make their first vintage. After trial and error these challenges where successfully overcome and Highgate has now made its first successful wine.
The first vintage compiled of 150 bottles Chardonnay, 300 Pinotage, 300 Merlot and 300 Shiraz. In 2009 Rudi planted 3,000 Cabernet Sauvignon. It is planned to increase the vineyard to a total of 20 hectares.
In 2016 an additional 2 hectares of vineyards have been established at Highgate Residential Wine Estate. The 2016 Harvest included Chardonnay, Shiraz, Pinotage, Merlot and for the first time ever Cabernet Sauvignon.
The entire wine production (now a much larger scale operation) is done at the Highgate Wine Estate Wine Cellar, everything from the picking of the grapes, de-stemming, crushing, fermenting, bottling and labeling takes place on site. The cellar is also home to the laboratory, where all the necessary tests are done throughout the wine making process.