Pinot noir

Our low-vigour, stony, clay-rich soil, cool maritime mesoclimate, naturally tiny yields of well under 35 hl/ha and our philosophy of expressing our terroir in our wines – give rise to a certain tightness, tannin line and elevated length to balance the richness and generosity of our Pinot noir. Our Pinot noir is not overtly fruity, soft and “sweet” and it generally shows hints of that alluring savoury “primal” character along with a dark, spicy, complex primary fruit perfume.

Select Vintage:

Latest vintage available online via Port2Port.

Soil :

Low-vigour, stony, clay-rich, shale-derived soil

Alcohol :


Acid :

5.80 g/l

pH :


Residual Sugar :

1.80 g/l

Barrel Maturation :


Barrel Ageing :

10 months

Malolactic :


1st fill :


2nd fill :


3rd fill :


Wooding :

100% 228 litre French Oak Barrels

Tight Grain :


French Coopers :

Francois Freres : 65%, Mercurey: 35%

Toasting Medium :


Blonde :


Medium Long :


Yield :

2.87 tons/ha, 18.76 hl/ha

Production :

3614 cases

Release date :

February 2017

Growing Season

2016 was another unusually early and short harvest – almost exactly the same timing as 2015. But as is wonderfully the case with nature, the character of the 2016’s is surprisingly different to the 2015’s. For the winelands in general, the story was of excessive heat and extreme dryness. But this was not the case for our appellation, the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Close proximity to the cool South Atlantic kept the maximum temperatures in line and we also benefitted from timely rain from the southeast, which seldom reaches the warmer inland areas. January was quite a bit warmer than our long-term average (the same as for 1998 and 2011) but it was not drier than average. And the crucial month of February was wetter than average without being warmer – as was March. Our main dam was almost full at the end of harvest. A relatively warm December, followed by a hot January was probably the main factor in making 2016 an early year. High humidity did create some anxiety – less over downy mildew – more over oidium – so it will be remembered as a more challenging year than 2015, but the resulting wines for the classicists and purists will perhaps be seen as more typical of our style.

95 Points - Decanter

93 Points - Wine Spectator

91 Points - Wine Advocate

93 Points - Steve Tanzer

95 Points - Tim Atkin

93 Points - James Suckling

95+ Points - Greg Sherwood MW

92 Points - International Wine Report

93 Points - Christian Eedes

Number 100 on the International Wine Report Top 100 Wines for 2017.

95 Andrew Howard MW, Decanter

Much more Burgundian in style, this reflects a low-yielding vintage with crisp acidity and fine tannins in charge on the palate. There isn't the same amount of up-front richness as the 2015 but Burgundy fans will love the gravelly precision and tension here, enhanced with use of 5% whole-bunch. This is a real terroir driven wine. Dark-cherry and spice notes on the palate with a long, lingering finish. Has a definite hint of Gevrey-Chambertin.

93 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

Tightly focused, with a lovely beam of red currant, raspberry and bitter cherry coulis flavors racing through, enhanced by a bright iron note and backed by a long floral edged finish.

93 Steve Tanzer

This has the soil complexity and light touch of a top Burgundy. Boasts rare energy and subtle grip for South African Pinot noir.

93 Christian Eedes, Wine Magazine

Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of the 2015, Hamilton Russell is particularly enthusiastic about the just-released 2016 (Wine Cellar price: R440 a bottle) and I have to concur that it does seem to have greater firmness about it without becoming severe. The nose shows darker fruit, musk, herbs and attractive oak. Pure fruit and freshness but also nice tannic structure that suggests a long future.

92 Owen Bargreen, International Wine Report

The 2016 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot noir is sourced from a 52 ha vineyard set on low-vigour, stony, clay-rich soil situated in the cooler maritime micro-climate of Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Translucent in colour, this wine begins with earthy aromatics of forest floor and tobacco leaf, with red currants and red berries coming together in the glass. Lithe, with a strong salinity, the wine shows a core of cherry, red berries, sweet tobacco and pomegranate flavours that connect with beautiful tension and a long lingering finish. Overall this is another beautiful vintage for this Pinot noir and I expect this will only become more appealing as it evolves in the cellar.

Sara d'Amato, Wine Align

Certainly not inexpensive but for those pinot lovers tirelessly searching for that one truly memorable, perspective changing find, you’ll be glad you spent the dollars. Hamilton Russell tries to avoid the “fruity” style of pinot noir and instead focuses a great deal of energy creating structure and length. The very low yields of their estate vineyards puts a microscope on the cool, maritime influenced climate resulting in a huge aromatic profile."

Michael Godel, Wine Align

This welcome ethereal return of Hamilton Russell’s Hermanus benchmark pinot noir follows on the heels of the early-picked, dense, muscular and compressed 2015. Comfortable alcohol meets optimum phenolic ripeness so let’s think on it in terms of ’08 burgundy, though perhaps not as tight and classic. It should always be noted that all the HR grapes go into these wines, no reserve wines, no single-vineyard, no divergence from monopole.

95+ Greg Sherwood MW

The wine is very rich and intense on the nose, brimming with dried rose petals, lavender, cherry blossom and dried thyme and oregano herbs. The palate is super concentrated with sweet black cherry, graphite spice and grey slatey gravelly minerality. While this wine has more concentration than previous vintages, it also has restraint and dusty structured tannins that add a beautiful frame from which to hang the complex fruit adornments. There is a real gravitas, complexity and textured layers to this very ‘grown up’ wine. The finish is long and precise and just when you think the last word will be left on a mineral note, a burst of pithy juicy stony red cherry fruit kicks in to tantalise the palate. This is a great effort from winemaker Emul Ross and a killer wine that should age gracefully for 15+ years.

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