|Ataraxia is the Greek word for tranquillity, and more specifically the type of tranquillity that is achieved by a complete freedom from worry or any other preoccupation. I think if you asked any winemaker “ataraxia” is not a state they are too familiar with, especially those whose prime concern is making the highest quality wines possible. Ataraxia was founded in 2004 by Kevin and Hanli Grant. Kevin has worked at several of South Africa’s top wineries, most recently at nearby Hamilton Russell.
Their vineyards are based in the Walker Bay district on the southern tip of Africa. This area has a relatively cool climate thanks to the proximity of the cold South Atlantic Ocean. This cool climate is amplified by the fact that their vineyards are on the highest section of the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge ward, a sub-division of the Walker Bay district. The estate produces three wines: a Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc and a blended red wine called Serenity; they will shortly be adding a Pinot Noir to complete the range.
Having started this website over 8 months ago, it has been remiss of me not to have covered one of my favourite grapes, the oft maligned Chardonnay. The Ataraxia Chardonnay is a perfect place to start, this Burgundian style of Chardonnay is fermented in French oak barriques (225 litres). They use a mix of new and second fill barrels (34% new oak and 66% old – in case you wanted to know). The wine is matured in barrels for 10 months and undergoes lees* stirring every two weeks, before being bottled. The wine then rests for a further 35 days in bottle, prior to its release for sale.
*Lees are the sediment produced during winemaking and it includes dead yeast cells and pips. By stirring the lees or bâtonnage as the French call it you can enhance the flavour and complexity of the wine, as well as protecting it from oxidation.