Ataraxia - a Greek philosophy term that is used to describe a lucid state of robust equanimity, that is characterised by ongoing freedom from any distress & worry.
And when you arrive at Ataraxia, you can just see & feel why this name is perfectly suited.
The estate sits on what I believe is a heavenly stretch of land just beneath the peak of the Babylon's Tower mountain range, with a very interesting mix of terroirs to work with.
I sat down with Kevin Grant, winemaker at Ataraxia & I had one of the most incredible wine tasting experiences. We spoke not only about wine, but also food, travel, reading & life in general. I felt so at home there on the couch in the tasting room, that I honestly didn't want to leave 3.5 hours later.
One very interesting comment that Kevin Grant made, was that he makes white wine & red wine. And that it just so happens that the Chardonnay & Pinot Noir are the 2 cultivars that are the expressions of those red & white wines. But only because he went back to the soil to see exactly what would work best in what he has on the estate, & that dictated what he would plant. Everything that ends up in a bottle of Ataraxia, starts with what is in the soil. The wine is a pure expression of the soil that it is grown in.
The Ataraxia mission is to get the dirt into the bottle with minimal intervention.
So, if you've been following my journey, then you know that I am a lover of a Wooded Chardonnay.
In the words of Kevin Grant - "The most accurate & faithful way possible, our unapologetically wooded white wine mirrors the terroir in which our Chardonnay vines are grown." This is probably one of the best Chardonnay's that I have ever been exposed to. A beautiful complex wine with lots of body that is graceful. Intense fruit flavours intertwined with a beautiful creaminess. A 100% barrel femented beauty!
Then Kevin Grant took out a bottle with no label. It was the 2017 Pinot Noir that had been bottled in January & this was the very first bottle that had been opened for the public. How cool to sit there & literally be the first person in the world to get to drink a glass of the the 2017 Pinot Noir with the winemaker himself.
The wooded red wine, again, is made from a grape that is most suited to express the terroir. It just so happens to be a Pinot Noir. These grapes are the last to be picked in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley. With a glass of transparent red wine that seems to reflect the light, the nose promises a blend of ripe red cherries & fresh earth & a touch of that oak. All of which follow through on the palate sensually as a slightly more medium bodied wine that hits all the right points. A soft fruit aftertaste in the finish makes it a wine that I could drink every day.
Lastly I need to mention this tasting room, which has aptly been named the Wine Lounge. It is possibly one of the most spectacular & dramatic positions, that has been built in the style of a chapel on top of a hill under the Babylon's Tower peak. It stands out as this incredible little building on the hill that you can spot from a distance.
First time visitors also get to ring the bell announcing that they have just had their first tasting at Ataraxia. (I'm sure it won't be the last either though.) Check out me ringing the bell here.
Check out Ataraxia here.