Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay
Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay has characters of ripe citrus, melon and peach with great minerality, rounded out by the well-judged use of oak. A full bodied and very complex wine with a long and creamy finish and a good acid backbone. It can be approached in its youth, but a few years in the cellar will reveal this Chardonnay's true depth and it will reward your patience.
- Country: South Africa
- Region: Coastal Region
- Subregion: Stellenbosch
- Vintage: 2019
- Colour: White
- Grape Variety: Chardonnay
- ABV: 13.5%
- Bottle Size: 75cl
- Closure: Screwcap
- Style: Burgundian elegance
- Drink With: Scampi mornay
Named after five large, stone pine trees on a hill standing sentinel over Rustenberg's Five Soldiers vineyards. The Five Soldiers is the apex of Chardonnay at Rustenberg and is a highly collected wine. Characterised by measured power and complexity, designed to be drunk with food, and benefiting from a few years of careful cellaring, Five Soldiers illustrates the true character of each vintage and is a barrel selection of the finest batches of Chardonnay each year.
Carefully selected bunches of Chardonnay were hand harvested for this special wine and then given royal treatment in the cellar. Fermented and aged in 300L French oak hogsheads, Five Soldiers Chardonnay spent 15 months in barrel and in contact with the lees of its wild yeasts. 70% of the oak was new, the remainder was second fill.
From Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:
The 2015 Five Soldiers Chardonnay comes from some of the oldest vines on the property, around 22 years old that tend to suffer a lot of coulure that lowers yields, whole-bunch pressed with slightly more new wood (70%) for 15 months. The bouquet handles the wood well, with attractive dried honey and candle wax aromas complementing the citrus fruit. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity and frankly you would hardly notice the oak. Citrus fresh with delicate white peach and pink grapefruit notes, this is a lovely Chardonnay. 93 Points
About the grower
The Rustenberg Estate stands on an impressive 880 hectares against the iconic Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch, with a glimpse of Table Mountain in the distance. Of the 880 hectares, 110 hectares are under vine (with plans to plant more), 200 hectares make up the beautiful pastures and farmland for grazing cattle, a portion hosts the historical farm and winery buildings, and the rest of Rustenberg is comprised of conservation land, made up of natural “fynbos” (the indigenous flora of the Cape) and a myriad of wildlife including porcupines, caracals, and cape leopard.
Rustenberg has a wine-growing history dating back to 1682, when Roelof Pasman recognised its vine-growing potential. By 1781, some 3000 cases of wine were produced on the farm each year. Production doubled by the end of the century and a new cellar was built, where wine has been bottled for an unbroken period since 1892.
In the early 1800s, Rustenberg was divided by the then owner Jacob Eksteen and a section was given to his son-in-law, who named it Schoongezicht and sold it soon after. Investment and development at Rustenberg and Schoongezicht hit a peak around 1812, resulting in beautiful homesteads and flourishing vineyards. But, by the middle of the century, recession coupled with vine disease brought bankruptcy and dispossession.
Schoongezicht was rescued in 1892 by future prime minister John X. Merriman, and Rustenberg by his brother-in-law Sir Jacob Barry. Together, they revitalised the estates. Fruit was sent to Covent Garden; new vines were grafted onto disease-resistant American rootstock; wines were exported to England and continental Europe, even as far afield as Siberia.
In 1941 Peter and Pamela Barlow bought Rustenberg, later acquiring Schoongezicht and reuniting the properties. Peter lovingly restored many of the old buildings on the property and developed the farming capacity of the estate by building dams and renovating the winery.
Their son, Simon, took over the running of the farm in 1987, having run Nooitgedacht, a property on the foothills of the Helderberg Mountain in Stellenbosch for a number of years. Simon reinvigorated the property as South Africa emerged from post-Apartheid isolation. He built a new winery and imported modern virus free clones and grape varieties to replant the estate’s vineyards. Simon is actively involved in the everyday running of the farm, along with his wife Rozanne who is responsible for the grounds and gardens.
Simon and Rozanne’s son, Murray, farms full time with his parents, having returned from completing his Masters in Oenology from The University of Adelaide in Australia in 2012. Murray has brought a renewed passion and a modern outlook to the operation, and he is primarily involved in the winemaking and marketing on the property.
The Barlows have now been at Rustenberg for over 70 years, the longest period that any one family has owned the estate.