Bouchard Finlayson is a top class, internationally-renowned estate situated in Walker Bay, mid-way between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas (the most southerly tip of Africa). The climate is largely influenced by the nearby cold Atlantic Ocean rendering it one of the coolest wine-growing areas in the Cape. The Hemel-en-Aarde valley, home to Bouchard Finlayson, is surrounded and sheltered by a mountain barrier, formed by Galpin Peak (810 metres) and the Tower of Babel (1200 metres), which traps the cloud cover and moisture brought in from the sea by the prevailing wind.
The estate is committed to conservation and sustainable farming, and they strongly believe their BWI membership sets them apart from other winemaking regions in the world. BWI (Biodiversity and Wine Initiative) is a partnership between the South African wine industry and the conservation sector, aimed at protecting the Cape’s rich floral kingdom. To this end, only 19ha of their most precious resource – the land – is under vine in order to preserve the natural indigenous fynbos (a valuable ecosystem).
As part of our monthly producer focus for 2018, we are asking the winemakers a few questions to learn a little bit more about them and their love of wine. Chris Albrecht, who joined Bouchard Finlayson in 2010 working as assistant winemaker with Peter Finlayson, was appointed winemaker last year.
Who, within the trade, has been your biggest influence and why?
I have been, and are continually being influenced, not by a single person, but by various international winemakers and visitors, viticulturists, sommeliers, oenophiles, agents, colleagues and notably my peers – all of which I’m fortunate to frequently interact with.
What was the most memorable bottle you’ve drunk? Where and when did you drink it?
Personally, I regard the last good bottle, enjoyed in good company, to be the most memorable. In this case an Elgin Chardonnay.
What will be new/different in 2018?
Apart from fermentation and maturation in terra cotta amphorae and a few new yeast strains, we will continue to experiment with various fermentation temperatures, juice clarity and the timing of additions.
What is your favourite variety, why?
Pinot Noir – because if you subscribe to the notion of expressing place through wine, it has to be.
What is your favourite place in the winery/vineyards and why?
I have a special affection to wood in general, and oak specifically. Being surrounded by tens of thousands of cumulative years of growth, makes our barrel cellar one of my favourite places. It is only trumped by a pair of specific vineyard sites.