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Restless River, Ava Marie, 2021

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Lemon Zest, Wet Stone, Nutty

Western Cape / White / Chardonnay / Organic




Restless River



Wine Type



South Africa


Hemel-en-Aarde, Western Cape 








Specific parcels within the vineyard were hand-picked over a period of three weeks in February. The grapes were immediately placed, whole bunch, into an old Vaslin basket press. After a gentle four hour squeeze, the oxidised juice was settled overnight, then racked into a variety of different sized French oak barrels (10% new) and unlined terracotta amphora from Tuscany. Wild fermentation occurs and the wine is the aged sur lie for 11 months before bottling. This is an impressive Chardonnay that is well worth purchasing now as will reward laying down for the next 10 years or so.

Notes on the producer

Craig and his wife Anne switched a glamorous and busy life in Cape Town for the run-down sheep farm they now call home in 2004. There were vines already on the property, and it turned out the farm had previously been owned by a distant relative of Craig’s who, back in 1760, had made moonshine there. Entirely self-taught, Craig began to tinker a little in the cellar producing wine for their own consumption, more as a form of leisure than anything else, but he was soon producing more than they could manage, and in 2012, released their first wines. Almost overnight, praise started flowing in and in a very short time, they became one of the coolest new kids and most acclaimed small estates in the Cape.

Their farm is located in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Its home to some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay vines in the region (planted in 1998). At Restless River, things are done in an unhurried way, with great dedication and attention to detail. Almost all their production is done by hand, resulting in limited quantities of each wine, and demand far exceeding supply. Restless River is defined by its terroir, and Craig Wessels' thoughtful and careful winemaking allows it to be the star of the show.


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