75cl * Vegan * 13.5% ABV * Hemel-en Aarde, Cape South Coast, South Africa
This small winery was established in 2007 by brothers Peter-Allan and Andrew Finlayson. Their father, Peter, was a pioneer in the production of cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Bouchard Finlayson, so after university it seemed the natural thing for the boys to return home and source some fruit from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley to start their own label. In 2021 Peter-Allan was named Tim Atkin MW’s ‘South African Winemaker of the Year’.
The ‘Peter Max’ is made with fruit drawn from five different vineyards, including two in the Hemel-en-Aarde, one near Clay Shales, one outside Villiersdorp and a new high altitude, inland site. Peter-Allan uses about 40% whole bunch, all wild ferment and a fairly long maceration to give a wine with lifted aromatics, lovely grainy tannins, good balance and length.
The 2022 vintage was a very atypical Cape vintage in that Crystallum harvested a full three weeks later than in 2021, and two weeks later than the norm. The later vintage allowed for extended hang time and the extra flavour development is evident in the 2022 vintage wines’ lifted aromatics.
A slightly more savoury and distinctly Burgundian expression featuring enhanced earthiness from cloves and tree bark. The red fruits are there in abundance, most notably wild strawberries and rhubarb, while there is a red apple skin quality to the tannins. The finish is all crushed mulberries and salted cherries, adding a moreish finish that makes the wine dangerously drinkable in spite of its ageing potential.