Elgin Chardonnay Dominates | Elgin Grabouw Tourism | South Africa

Elgin Chardonnay Dominates

Elgin Chardonnay regularly dominates local wine competitions and blind tastings, and has made a name for itself internationally as a key producer of some of the finest cool climate Chardonnay in South Africa. This is pretty impressive as around 80% of the Elgin Valley is used for apple and pear production, and less than 750ha is under vine.

From small beginnings (Wine of Origin Elgin was only created in 1990) how and why has Elgin Chardonnay become so sought after?

Situated just 20kms from the Atlantic Ocean, Elgin is a saucer-shaped inland plateau, surrounded by mountains and between 260 and 600m above sea level. The combination of altitude, proximity to the ocean, and the resulting sea breezes and cloud cover, afford Elgin a climate comparable with the south of Burgundy and the Northern Rhône, and it is South Africa’s coolest wine-producing region.  

Cool mists and breezes

Morning mists and low clouds create filtered sunlight, humidity levels of 60-65% and low nighttime temperatures which keep the grapes on the vines cool. This means they ripen very slowly allowing the accumulation of more aromas and flavours, while retaining higher acidity levels. Our average temperature in February is a cool 19.2 degrees Celcius.  Because of these factors, Elgin farmers generally harvest at least two weeks later than most of the other wine-producing regions in the Cape.

Looking to the ground, there are four key soils in the valley which each impart character to the wine:

Decomposed Shales (also known as Bokkeveld Shales) give structure and concentration of flavours​.

Table Mountain Sandstone is a mix of sand and pebbles, and gives delicacy and lifted fruity flavours. 

Glenrosa and Tukulu are gravelly and partially granite soils. They give elegance, freshness and aromatics especially mineral components.​

Elgin Chardonnay Colloquium hosted by Elgin Grabouw Tourism on 12 October 2019

Elgin Chardonnay can be described as restrained, elegant and aromatic, with a purity of fruit. One distinctive character that is often noted in Elgin Chardonnays is minerality which is best expressed as a salty core.  Fresh citrus notes are also apparent in abundance.

There is a wonderful selection of both unwooded and oaked Chardonnays from Elgin, and one of the best ways to discover your favourites is to visit the wine farms for a wine tasting (insert link: https://elgingrabouw.co.za/farm-index-wines-of-elgin-2/ )

Many of the wineries also offer food, accommodation, and outdoor activities  (insert link: https://elgingrabouw.co.za/grape-tales/ ) making a stay in Elgin even more attractive.