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Restless River Ava Marie Chardonnay 2021

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south africa

Tasting Notes

The Restless River Chardonnay has come on leaps and bounds in the last few vintages. The 2020 was exceptional, and the 2021? Even finer. "A true classic that is worthy of a place in any collector’s cellar … lovely lemon butter and leesy aromatic complexity with hints of white toast, lemon rind, white citrus, melted wax and a mellow kiss of salted caramel. The palate is bright and fresh but also shows a generous mid-palate concentration and textural fleshy character." Greg Sherwood MW

More Info

Restless River is a rising star which has quietly achieved cult-status for its brilliant, Burgundian-style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and super fine yet intense Cabernet Sauvignon. Launched in 2012 by Craig Wessels, their farm is located in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. It's 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.  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. "At its best, South Africa is increasingly terroir-driven. Craig Wessels of Restless River says that it’s about “building wines in the vineyard, not the winery”, trying to reflect a place rather than a style that’s imposed in the cellar." - Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Report 2023.  "His Chardonnays offer real Burgundian allure and his occasionally Volnaysian Pinot Noirs." - Neal Martin,



“97 points - Aromas of wet chalkboard, crushed stones and fresh white blossoms, with a hint of oatmeal wooliness in the background. Named for owners Anne and Craig Wessels’ daughter, grapes are sourced from a 25-year-old, low-yielding 2ha vineyard. Harvesting takes place over a three-week period, as winemaker Craig has identified different soil structures within the block and uses this to build complexity. A year’s maturation follows, mainly in 500L barrels (10% new) and a portion in amphora. It's a textural wine defined by flinty tension and vibrant acidity.”
Malu Lambert - Decanter, January 2024
“91 points - The 2021 Ava Marie is whole bunch, pressed and matured partially in Amphorae for 12 months.It takes a little while to open, revealing candlewax, pressed white flowers, and orange pith notes with aeration. The pallet is slightly granular on the entry, just a faint, underline oatmeal note, with fine tension and a little chalkiness towards the finish. Lots going on here. An absorbing Chardonnay.”
Neal Martin -, August 2023
“96 points - "I fell in love with Chardonnay through Chablis," says Craig Wessels and you can see that influence here. Reflecting the coolness of the 2021 vintage, this is taut, focused, stony and engagingly mouth-watering, with effortless concentration, notes of brine, lanolin and lemon juice and extra layers of complexity from old barrels and amphoras. 2024-31”
Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Special Report 2023
“His Chardonnays offer real Burgundian allure and his occasionally Volnaysian Pinot Noirs”

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