Iona Chardonnay has immediate appeal of a sophisticated, light Burgundian Chardonnay. It has aromas of white peach, minerals and hints of almonds, hazelnuts and limes. The flavours are complex and layered, with touches of almond and biscuit brioche which combine with a wonderful purity of fruit and terrific length. This is a beautifully poised Chardonnay with perfect integration of oak and acidity. The flavours are intense, vibrant and subtle at the same time. This enigmatic, seamless and textured Iona Chardonnay is a real treat at this price and shows how fantastic this grape can be when it is produced at its top level.
This elegant Chardonnay comes from the cool Elgin Highland vineyards of Andrew and Rosy Gunn, located to the South East of Cape Town. They are situated on a mountain plateau at 420 metres surrounded by the Kogelburg Nature Reserve where the prevailing winds off the cold Atlantic ocean, account for the layered nuances of their Chardonnays. Here, the grapes ripen slowly here, and are often harvested some 2 months later than other Cape vineyards. This cool climate with its long, slow ripening period is key to the purity and subtlety of Iona wines and their Winemaker, Werner Muller is one of the most highly respected winemakers in South Africa.
You can find out more about how this wine is made below and see some photos of its amazingly beautiful situation in our blog post on our News & Views Page.
This elegant wine is close in style to a really good white Burgundy from St Aubin, Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint-Véran or Auzey-Duresses. For the price of an everyday wine in a Restaurant, why not treat yourself to this stunning and delicious Chardonnay. Year on year this wine consistently wins acclaim from wine writers and below are some of the quotes.
This wine sells in other Independent Merchants £19.95 – £21.99; check out our competitive price
“Deep straw colour. Quite a sweet nose. Precise and chiselled. Great balance. Good, austere, dry and appetising on the finish. 17 Points: Drink 2020 – 2027 Jancis Robinson MW”
“Spicy yellow fruits blend into wet river stone minerality and pithy green apple and grapefruit intensity. Fleshy, glycerol but fabulously concentrated, piercing and intense. The oak-ing is super intelligent and the integration of crystalline fruit and acidity and vibrancy is perfectly judged. A really delicious Chardonnay that will get a lot of drinkers very excited.” 93+ Points; Greg Sherwood MW”
“Intense aromas, yet not without characteristic elegance, thanks to the convincing balance between fruit and structure – notably the fine acidity of cool Iona vineyards. Oak support vital for complexity, but invisible. Platters SA Wine Guide 2019”
“A purity of fruit that finds a delicate balance between ripeness of the sunny Cape and freshness – a mix of ripe lemon and white peach with a crystalline thread of acidity that really lifts the palate: Tim Jackson MW
Iona Elgin Highlands Chardonnay 2018
This wine has been produced from the grapes from two North facing vineyards on the Western boundaries of the Estate, planted in 2003. The 2018 vintage came from a cool winter with average rainfall, which prepared the vines well. A windy spring resulted in uneven flowering and some smaller berries, this was followed by a cool December and January but the overall result from the long ripening period was pristine grapes with natural acidity and intense fruit flavours. The grapes were whole bunch pressed and each block vinified separately with wild yeast fermentation. The juice is then settled for 24 days and racked in small French barriques where there is some spontaneous malolactic fermentation, adding richness and texture. Lees stirring occurs every 3rd week for 4 months, adding complexity and texture. This is followed by a further period of maturation before bottling. Overall the wine spends 11 months in oak barrels, which are a mix of 31% new oak, with the remainder being 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill.
The story behind Iona
There is an interesting story behind Iona which was established as a vineyard and winery in 1998/99; their first vintage was a Sauvignon Blanc 2001. In early 1997, Andrew Gunn, an engineer by training was contemplating his next career move. Having always loved the outdoors, the prospect of farming appealed to him and feeling young and energetic enough to start a new career, left the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg to begin the search for the ‘perfect’ farm.
After months of searching and 40 farm visits later, Andrew and a very tired estate agent stumbled upon a solitary run down apple farm on a mountain top overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The prospect of a suitable farm in Elgin intrigued Andrew and on driving through the valley, he became excited by the beauty of the area. Surrounded by the Kogelberg Biosphere and Forestry the property had no agricultural neighbours. The rolling hills and the drive up the mountain to where the farm was situated, 420 meters above sea level, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, was unlike anything he had ever seen. It was love at first sight.
Andrew decided to name the “farm” and winery as “Iona”, after the island off the West Coast of Scotland, where Andrew’s ancestors hail from; it has become one of South Africa’s top producers of Sauvignon Blanc, in particular.