Iona Elgin Highlands Chardonnay 2022


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Additional information


South Africa




100% Chardonnay




97 Points: Platinum Award Decanter World Wine Awards 2022, Best in Show – Decanter World Wine Awards 2023

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Organic & Biodynamic practices, Vegan

Tasting Notes

Iona Chardonnay has immediate appeal of a sophisticated, light Burgundian Chardonnay at a great price offer. 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, 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 Learn & Discover – Behind the Labels pages.

This elegant wine is close in style to a really good white Burgundy from St Aubin, Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint-Véran or Auzey-Duresses. For less than 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 and this year it has won the coveted Decanter Best in Show Award. Only wines that have scored 97 Points (Platinum Award) are tasted blind and the Top 50 are awarded Best in Show. A mere .27% of the total 18,250 wines tasted in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards – a testament to the brilliance of Iona and their winemaker Werner Muller.

This wine sells in other Independent Merchants £24 – £28; check out our competitive price.


2021 Vintage – Decanter Platinum Award + Best in Show

“It’s pale dawn-yellow in colour, with taut yet close-knit aromas that suggest plant sap, peeled vegetable and spring leaf as much as green fruits. The 11 months’ oak provide an aromatic backdrop without obscuring vineyard character. On the palate, the wine is lean, shapely, intense: a cool waterfall of Chardonnay fruits which sweep seamlessly over the tongue, leaving it looking for more. Drinkability, refreshment and a unique regional style come together memorably here.” 97 Points, Decanter World Wine Awards 2022 & Best in Show 2023

“After a Platinum win for Elgin Chardonnay last year, we all suspected it was only a matter of time before this propitious combination of variety and region would make its way into our Top Fifty. So it proved this year, as this high-sited (200m-450m), mountain-fringed zone in the Cape’s deep, ocean-cooled south brought us one of the most memorable of this year’s Chardonnay cohort.”  Decanter World Wine Awards 2023

“Four Iona blocks – F4, Kloof, Kroon and Fynbos – contribute to this complex, subtle, understated Chardonnay. Fermented in 22% new wood, it has a touch of cream from malolactic, lime, citrus and nutmeg flavours, pithy acidity and less assertive oak handling than in the immediate past. 93 Points: Drink 2023-29.”  Tim Atkin MW South Africa Report 2023

2020 vintage:

“Cool and fresh and with a light floral note. Good composition. Lots of flavour and no oak or sweetness!” 16.5+ Points, Drink 2022 – 2030  Jancis Robinson MW, April 2022.

“Wild yeasts and barrel fermented, this is a more classical expression showing great aromatic restraint with notes of struck flint, lime peel, waxy green apple skins and dried baking herbs. The palate is subtle and sleek, seamlessly textured and wonderfully elegant with beautifully integrated melon, peach and yellow citrus fruits melting into a smoky minerality and roasted nut depth. A very classy old world leaning Chardonnay.” 93+ Points, Greg Sherwood MW, May 2022.

2019 vintage:

“Delicate… A sort of attractive combination of butterscotch and green vegetation. No hurry to drink this. Real texture. Very persistent.” 16.5 + Points. Drink 2021 – 2028. Jancis Robinson MW

Iona Elgin Highlands Chardonnay

The 2021 vintage experienced a typical cold Elgin winter, with snow on the high mountain peaks and high winter rainfall, after 5 years of very dry and unusually warm winter conditions. This enabled good vine dormancy. Bud break took place in ideal warm and sunny conditions. The impact of below than average winter rains in the previous years and windy conditions during October and November resulted in very uneven flowering. As a result, berry set was uneven leading to smaller berries that have good concentration of flavours. Cool weather conditions during December and January slowed down ripening. The 2021 vintage was characterised by late rainfall and increased the risk of disease.

Sorting was crucial this year and the fruit that remained shows wonderful intensity and fruit concentration. The late rain helped nourish the soils and more importantly, helped the vine focus on grape ripening rather than foliage growth, resulting in concentrated berries with low pH and lower sugar levels. The net result of the later vintage and very cool weather conditions in 2021, is that the grapes had high natural acidity, achieved steady phenolic ripeness and plenty of intense and concentrated fruit flavours.

The vineyards are between 9-15 years old. The grapes are hand-picked and then whole bunch pressed. This wine was 100% wild fermented in a selection of 300L and 228L French oak barrels (22% new, the rest in 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill barrels). The wine remained on the lees for a total of 11 months. 12% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation to add richness and texture. Thereafter, the wines were racked and blended in stainless steel tanks. The wine was fined and stabilised naturally for a period of three months before bottling.

The story behind Iona

There is an interesting story behind Iona which was established as a vineyard and winery in 1998/99 in the beautiful highlands of Elgin. You can find out more and see for yourself the beauty and story behind Iona in our short blogpost, Iona – World class wines from cool climate south Africa.

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.

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