Le Bonheur Chardonnay is a South African white wine made in the Simonsbery Stellenbosch wine appellation. This 163-hectare estate with the optimistic name of Le Bonheur (“Happiness”) is situated along the slopes of the Klapmuts Hill in the northern reaches of the Simonsberg Mountain, in the Stellenbosch Wine of Origin district. Klapmuts is the old Dutch word for the 18th century cocked hat that folded away into the saddle back pocket and, indeed, when observed from a distance, the hill resembles such a hat. Le Bonheur has an enviable terroir. Most of the 65 hectares of vineyards face north, while a few face east and south-east. The vineyards are situated at different altitudes from 200 to 350 metres above sea-level, and each has its own, unique soil characteristics. There are four basic soil types at Le Bonheur: decomposed granite, red loam, sand, and sand over pot clay. Winemaker Sakkie Kotzé’s dedication and attention to detail really come to the fore once the grapes are ripe and ready to be harvested.
The grapes for Le Bonheur Chardonnay are are carefully picked by hand and placed in small baskets to prevent the fruit from bruising. They are then hand-sorted, and only bunches passing exacting scrutiny are selected for fermentation. The reason is simple : “If the best French chateaux take the trouble to sort their grapes, so can we.” Each parcel of grapes from each vineyard is vinified separately. Around 40% of the blend is barrel fermented in a combination of small Allier and Nevers oak barrels and the balance is vinified in stainless steel. The wine is then aged for 4 months on the lees prior to bottling to enhance the creaminess and the texture of mouthfeel.