When it comes to site-specific, cool-climate wines from South Africa, there's one man who's in the driving seat, Richard Kershaw and his Elgin-based winery, Richard Kershaw Wines.
Richard describes himself as a 'virtual winemaker' as he has no vineyards of his own, instead building relationships with some of the finest growers in the region over many years. Since he established his winery in 2012, the focus and philosophy have been on producing cool-climate, terroir-driven wines, which have quickly gained a reputation for being some of the very best in the country. He uses sustainable and minimalist winemaking techniques with an attention to detail that's second to none, right down to the labels, capsules and packaging of his wines.
“Kershaw’s portfolio is almost like a scientific exercise that just so happens to taste wonderful…” - Neal Martin
Richard produces several different wines, each showcasing a different clone or terroir:
Clonally selected, site-specific, cool climate wine from grapes with the ability to produce world-class examples. These are picked exclusively from parcels of grapes within Elgin Valley, where conditions enable Chardonnay, Syrah and, more recently, Pinot Noir, to show a true sense of place.
When exploring exemplary parcels of vines from outside the Elgin region, occasionally Richard comes across something so fascinating that it deserves a closer look. These are the resultant wines of his curiosity.
Single site, soil and clone wines from Elgin. The inspiration for these 'Deconstructed' wines stems from Richard’s belief that the Elgin region boasts credentials that make it world-class. In order to bolster these regional credentials, Richard's personal mandate has been to prove Elgin has both signature grapes that are synonymous with the region as well as particular terroirs/meso-climates within its demarcated boundary that reflect regional distinctions. The grapes that have been selected are each from a sub-region of Elgin, grown in a specific vineyard, by an individual clone.
Achieving very respectable scores across the board from some of the world's top critics, and tasting notes full of superlatives below, these wines are very reasonably priced for the quality on show. With limited quantities available, particularly in the 'Deconstructed' range, where we have only one case of each, don't delay in securing your cases today.
These wines will be arriving into AMFW at the end of the year, so do get in touch if you would like to order, and I can confirm, subject to remaining availability.
2019 Chardonnay Clonal Selection Elgin
17 Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Full-throttle nose offers a broad spectrum of ripe Chardonnay fruit with massive finesse on the palate and just the right amount of acidity. It’s not as austere as the Mount Mary Yarra Chardonnay 2019 I happen to have to hand, and may not last as long, but it is beautifully made with both ripeness and restraint in evidence. Comfortingly long. And it’s not a copy of burgundy! It’s its own expression, of Elgin Chardonnay.” 2021-2026.
94 Pts | Tim Atkin MW“Subtle, textured and refreshing, with aniseed, citrus and cinnamon spice, subtle gunflint top notes and a smoky finish.” 2021-26.
91 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2019 Chardonnay Clonal Selection Elgin has a fresh, vibrant nose with scents of wild peach and Conference pear, understated but unfurling in the glass. The Palate is well balanced with sour lemon on the entry, then lime and Golden Delicious apple. It becomes a little creamy in texture toward the finish which leaves a suggestion of lemon curd on the aftertaste. Just a lovely Chardonnay” 2022-2038
2019 Pinot Noir Clonal Selection Elgin
93 Pts | Tim Atkin MW“Clonal combines five different Burgundy clones (113, 114, 115, 667 and 777) from five blocks, most of which are in the western side of Elgin. Combining perfume with acidity and fruit concentration, it's a very complete wine, with stony undertones, fine oak and textured plum and strawberry fruit.” 2022-27.
93 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2019 Pinot Noir Clonal Selection Elgin has a detailed nose, a mélange of red and black fruit, iodine and pressed iris flower. The palate is medium bodied with supple tannins, a velvety smooth itexture and a touch of white pepper and clove. Gains weight toward the finish, which retains commendable elegance and feels almost Volnay-like on the peppery aftertaste. Excellent!”
2018 Syrah ‘Clonal Selection’ Elgin
17.5 Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Mid garnet. Both rich and savoury on the nose. Quite a tightrope walked with aplomb! Really complete. Long and polished with some transparency. It's fuller than a Côte Rôtie but much more elegant than most New World Syrahs. This throbs on the palate! Really neat and well balanced with a dry finish but no shortage of refined fruit. Really bright-fruited and its own style. Silky texture. Well done!” 2021-2028.
2019 Chardonnay G.P.S. Series Lower Duivenkhoks River92 Pts | Tim Atkin MW “This impressive Syrah hails from the shale soils of the Klein River ward, close to Walker Bay, and is made with the Rhône Valley SH1 clone. Salty and perfumed, with savoury tannins, bright acidity and notes of fynbos, blackberry and dried blood.” 2022-26.
17 Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Greenish straw. Light, 'stony' nose with excellent acidity. This is a youthful wine with what seems like a long and promising future ahead of it. Only very, very slightly reductive. Note of minerals and unsweetened lime juice. Serious and bone dry – rather uncompromising and definitely for connoisseurs rather than the mass market. Crystalline structure. Quite unusual. Wait awhile before opening.”
93 Pts | Tim Atkin MW“Rare in the Cape for being grown on limestone soils, especially outside the Robertson region, this is a correspondingly bright, tangy Chardonnay with nutty, subtly wooded flavours, a twist of vanilla spice and a racy finish.”
2019 Pinot Noir G.P.S. Series Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge
17.5 Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Pale cherry red with a pale rim. There's a hint of green vegetation about the nose. Sweet, gentle palate entry that's a meld of violets and mushrooms – really rather lovely! Real impact and freshness on the palate. I'm bowled over by the palate and texture. Lots of presence but not sweetness on the palate. Long and confident.”
93 Pts | Tim Atkin MW“The lightest and most delicate of the Kershaw Pinot Noirs, this is a fresh, graceful wine made from two sites planted with the 777 and 115 clones. Juicy, racy and floral, with appealing texture, some underlying grip and a core of rose petals and wild strawberry.”
2018 Syrah 'G.P.S. Series' Klein River
94 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2018 Syrah GPS Series Klein River has a tightly wound nose of brambly black fruit, black pepper, juniper and wild hedgerow, well defined but a little recalcitrant. The silky-smooth palate is medium-bodied with lithe tannins and very fine depth. The mouth tingles with the pepperiness of this Syrah, which is reminiscent of a Cornas toward a finish that lingers in the mouth. A classy, delicious Rhône-inspired Syrah.”
2018 Chardonnay Deconstructed Lake District Cartref CY9694 Pts | Tim Atkin MW “Smoky, meaty and slightly reductive, this is an intense, well-structured Pinot Noir sourced from a dryland vineyard that belongs to fizz producer Charles Fox. Structured, powerful and polished, with a twist of ginger spice.” 2022-27.
92 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2018 Kershaw Deconstructed Lake District Cartref CY96, matured in 52% new oak, has a compelling nose of caramelized pear, acacia honey, orange blossom and light marmalade scents. The palate is beautifully balanced with a killer line of acidity, and a little spicier than the Elgin Chardonnay. Perhaps I am just seeking more persistence toward the finish; otherwise, this is another impressive Chardonnay from Kershaw.”
93 Pts | Tim Atkin MW“Made with fruit from the western side of Elgin, this hails from mixed granite, sandstone and quartz soils and features the “most linear” of the Chardonnay clones, according to Richard Kershaw. Waxy, leesy and toasty, it has more acidity than the winery’s other 2018’s, but is still a bold, plush and powerful Chardonnay with exotic fruit sweetness.” 2020-24
2018 Chardonnay Deconstructed Groenland Bokkeveld Shale CY548
92 Pts | Anthony Mueller, Wine Advocate“Impeccably balanced and possessing power with finesse, the 2018 Groenland Bokkeveld Shale CY548 Deconstructed Chardonnay offers ripe and round aromas of brown baking spices, juicy yellow apple, sweet citrus, lemon meringue and lightly sautéed almonds. Medium-bodied, the palate explodes with layers that bring forth a beautifully complex mouthfeel and exquisite flavors of cardamom madeleines, pound cake and lemon pastry cream along with a delightful, growing spiciness that grips the palate. The Chardonnay evolves in the mouth with time, leaving behind a soft nutty expression with citrus and pomaceous notes leading to a delightfully spicy finish that will remain food-friendly for the next 10 years. I’m going back for a second and third sip.”
92 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2018 Kershaw Deconstructed Groenland Bokkeveld Shale CY548 is the one white cuvée that demands coaxing compared to others, eventually rewarding the imbiber with beeswax and honeysuckle scents. The palate is full of tension thanks to another silver bead of acidity cutting through the bitter lemon, orange pith and pineapple notes that fan out toward the finish. Very classy.”
93 Pts | Tim Atkin MW“We’re saying farewell to this block here, as Oak Valley has now reclaimed it for its own use. This is quite a bold wine – typical of the Kershaw Chardonnays in 2018 – with soft, peachy, almost Pouilly-Fuissé-like flavours, scented 60% new wood and underlying acidity.” 2019-23.
2018 Chardonnay Deconstructed Lake District Bokkeveld Shale CY95
94 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2018 Kershaw Deconstructed Lake District Bokkeveld Shale CY95 is sharper and more mineral- driven than the CY96, presenting scents of red apple, citrus peel, crushed stone and melon. The oak is beautifully integrated. The palate is well balanced and precise, slightly creamy in texture on the entry and revealing gorgeous orange zest and black currant leaf notes on the finish. A cerebral and compelling Chardonnay from Kershaw.”
93 Pts | Tim Atkin MW“Generally, the most opulent and forward of the Kershaw Chardonnays – a style that’s enhanced by the high fructose levels of the 2018 vintage – this has sweet, aromatic stone fruit flavours, a hint of coconut spice and a textured, supple finish. Ripe and well made with stylish oak.” 2019-23
93 Pts | Antony Mueller, Wine Advocate“Instantly impressive, the 2018 Lake District Bokkeveld Shale CY95 Deconstructed Chardonnay rockets from the glass with finesse and precision, sashaying with seductive aromas of lemon pastry cream, popcorn kernel, lemon panna cotta and vanilla crème brûlée. Medium-bodied and clocking in at 13.5% alcohol, the palate is compact, layered and devastatingly gorgeous. Seductive oak tones ricochet off the palate with succulent sweet citrus flavors before yellow apple and underripe pineapple sway in unison. The Chardonnay continues to unpack and unfold its layers, giving up more of its secrets and has me just smelling the glass in awe. The wine glides to a fantastic, somersaulting finish that would please even the most devout Burgundy lover. Bravo, this is highly impressive stuff!”
2018 Syrah Deconstructed Bokkeveld Shale SH9c
17.5 Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Mid purplish crimson. Now this is more like it! The perfume one hopes for in a Côte Rôtie and a beautiful smooth texture. This is just what Syrah fans would seek in a young example – pleasure in spades but with the promise of exciting future development. Long and a peacock’s-tail finish. Sweetness and the merest suggestion of black pepper. Some delicacy of texture here. Quite a contrast to the Lake District bottling.”
94 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2018 Syrah Deconstructed Groenland Bokkeveld Shale SH9c has a well-defined nose of red and black fruit, a little more lactic than Kershaw’s other cuvees in this vintage. The palace is medium-bodied with supple tannins and a fine bead of acidity. A very feint licorise note develops, flanked by clove and white pepper. Very cohesive on the finish. Maybe it needs more grip, but otherwise this is a superb Syrah.”
2018 Syrah Deconstructed Lake District Cartref SH9c
95 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2018 Syrah Deconstructed Lake District Cartref SH9c offers extremely pure dark cherry, bergamot, rooibos and crushed stone aromas that blossom in the glass. The palate is medium bodied with supple tannins, beautiful structure, fine grained tannins and a liberal sprinkling of black pepper on the finish. Sophisticated and cerebral (and delicious).” 2023-2045
16.5+ Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Mid crimson. Not quite as obviously Syrah on the nose as the Pinots are obviously Pinots. Savoury red wine with a delicate impact on the palate and beautifully managed tannins. The merest hint of leather. Firm grip on the finish and still a bit of tannin. Tannin slightly trumps fruit at the moment and there is no haunting bouquet as yet. Definitely work in progress.”
2018 Syrah Deconstructed Lake District Cartref SH22
96 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2018 Syrah Deconstructed Lake District Cartref SH22 has a floral bouquet of black fruit infused with iris and violet petal, magnificently defined. The palate is medium-bodied, fresh and vibrant, with supple tannins, a fine bead of acidity and a harmonious finish that is intense yet paradoxically understated. The sapid nature of this Syrah makes you immediately return for another sip. Wonderful.” 2023-2045
16.5 Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Mid purplish crimson. Sweet, floral nose. Very smooth and carefully made but just a little too sweet for my taste. This tastes a bit more mainstream than the other Kershaw Syrahs. A little hot on the end. But ambitious.”
2019 Pinot Noir Deconstructed Kogelberg Sandstone PN777
18 Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Mid ruby. Interesting mushroomy notes on the nose. Firm and confident. This is a Côte de Nuits style! Good attack without being heavy. Really pretty exciting. This is quite a triumph, to make a Pinot as emphatic as this without overdoing the sweetness or the oak. And it’s so juicily attractive! Perfect balance. Neat finish.” 2021-2028.
94 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2019 Pinot Noir Deconstructed Kogelberg Sandstone PN777 has a drop-dead gorgeous bouquet straight out of Burgundy, featuring pure brambly red fruit, sous-bois and light truffly scents that emerge with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied and smooth, with lithe tannins, perfect acidity and just the right amount of piquancy toward the finish. Wonderful.”
92 Pts | Tim Atkin MW“New to the impressive range of Pinot Noirs from Richard Kershaw, this is made with fruit from the Lothian estate. Graceful, balanced and light, with sappy red fruit focus, floral top notes, perfumed 33% new wood, fresh acidity and a savoury finish.” 2023-27..
2019 Pinot Noir Deconstructed Valley Ridge Gravel over Clay PN777
17.5 Pts | Jancis Robinson MW“Bluer than the Kogelberg 2019 but the same ‘Dijon’ clone 777. Pale garnet. Pretty subtle nose. Just a hint of cough medicine and definitely more obvious acidity than the Kogelberg but possibly a longer life. Another hugely competent Pinot from Master of Wine Richard Kershaw. Bone dry.” 2022-2028.
95 Pts | Neal Martin, Vinous“The 2019 Pinot Noir Deconstructed Valley Ridge Gravel Over Clay PN777 has a little more earthiness than the Kogelberg Sandstone, though the fruit profile is almost identical. The harmonious palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, perfect acidity and an elegant, lingering finish that leaves behind tempting red berry fruit laced with white pepper. There’s not a hair out of place on this Pinot Noir.”