Blessed with one of the most idiosyncratic ranges of labels that I have encountered, the wines of La Vierge are mightily impressive and demonstrate all too clearly just what Hermanus has to offer. Two hours south of Stellenbosch, this is much cooler climate viticulture with early morning mists, no irrigation and much later picking and consequently longer hang time than is the case further north.

Winemaker Gerhard Smith’s career covers vintages in France, US, Australia and, most notably, at Gladstone Vineyards in Wairarapa, New Zealand which served to demonstrate the gifts that he has for coaxing the very best out of Pinot Noir. Returning to South Africa, Hermanus seemed to offer precisely the conditions and terroir that he was looking for and in La Vierge, which rubs shoulders with the likes of Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson he found an opportunity to let his skills shine.

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