The Wines of Storm

by artfuldiner on February 28, 2018

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

Storm, Ernst & HannesHannes and Ernst Storm grew up in the Western Cape of South Africa. When they were in their teens, the family moved to Hermanus, in the famed Walker Bay wine producing region. After receiving his degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of Stellenbosch, older brother Hannes spent a decade as the winemaker at South Africa’s famed Hamilton Russell Winery. In 2012, however, he struck out on his own, starting his own winery in the Hemel-en-Aarde (“Heaven and Earth”) Valley of the Western Cape.

Younger brother Ernst studied winemaking at South Africa’s Elsenburg Agricultural School before moving on to Amani Winery in SA and then becoming winemaker at Curtis Winery in California’s Santa Barbara County. In 2006 he launched his own label. Interestingly enough, both brothers named their projects eponymously: Storm Wines.

Hannes Storm is excited about the new wave of young winemakers in South Africa. While he produces both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, 90% percent of his winemaking to devoted to the former. His first Cru (vintage) is the “Vrede” vineyard; a small, five acre plot of stony, clay-rich soil that is the recipient of the cool breezes from the nearby (two miles) Atlantic Ocean. The second Cru, the “Moya” vineyard, is located in the upper Hemel-end Aarde Valley, and features granite soils with large pebbles in the topsoil. The climate here is also quite cool, as the Atlantic is only five miles away.

Storm SA 2012 Vrede Pinot NoirThe 2012 Storm “Vrede” Pinot Noir is Hannes’ debut vintage; and it is quite impressive, receiving 91 points (100-point scale) from Wine & Spirits and 92 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. I have personally sampled this wine, luckily snatching up the last bottle available at the Devon State Store, and I can vouch for its impeccable quality. It is dark and plush and, as Parker notes, exhibits “opulence allied with finesse.” This wine normally retails at the $50.00 mark, but Pennsylvania’s LCB is having a clearance sale on this little beauty, letting it go at a mere $39.99… And there are still a few bottles available through PA State Stores… but you’d have to do some detective work.

You best bet, however, is to go for the 2013 Storm “Vrede” Pinot Noir, which is quite readily available from various sources online. It retails in the $45.00 range (plus shipping). And, in many ways, the 2013 is even more impressive than the 2012, garnering 92 points from the Wine Spectator. As London’s Atlas Fine Wines put it: “To be frank, this is undoubtedly the finest Pinot Noir I have tasted from South Africa.” Indeed, this is a bold and classy Pinot that will age gracefully for the next five years… but that is also thoroughly enjoyable at the present moment. Only 350 cases were produced, so catch it while you can. Highly recommended!


Considered one of most talented winemakers in California’s Santa Barbara County, Ernst Storm has long-term grape contracts with different corners of the region: Presqu’ile in the Santa Maria Valley; Duvarita in Lompoc, and John Sebastiano in the Sta. Rita Hills, just to name a few. He makes his small production wines in a modest winery located behind Andrew Murray Vineyards’ new tasting room along Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos, CA.


He focuses on two varieties: Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. He also produces a sister label, Notary Public, that is known for its affordably priced Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc. Ernst is quite firm about his style of Pinot Noir, explicitly choosing elegance over power. He recognizes the fact that old school wine critics prefer riper wines (Robert Parker’s name, though unspoken, clearly comes to mind), as does much of the wine-buying public. But Storm is convinced – as is this writer – that with riper wines vineyard site uniqueness, Terroir, disappears.

But in addition to his three single vineyard Pinot Noirs – Presqu’ile, Duvarita, and John Sebastiano – Ernst also combines grapes from the three to create an intriguing, highly regarded Santa Barbara County blend. To quote the Wine Advocate’s assessment of the 2013 Storm Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir: “Balanced, medium-bodied and classy all around, drink this beautiful Santa Barbara County Pinot anytime over the coming 4-5 years.”

Storm Presqu Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013After a good deal of research, however, in my opinion, the most easily obtainable – and ultimately satisfying Ernst Storm wine would be his incomparable 2013 Presq’ile Vineyard Pinot Noir. Highly acclaimed by the critics – 94 points from Antonio Galloni’s Vinous; 93 points from the Wine Enthusiast – the 2013 is rich, succulent, and downright sexy. The aromas are spicy, the palate lithe & silky smooth. Fabulous flavor and texture. This wine is a winner in every respect. The price is $47.99 online (plus shipping)… and worth every penny. If you’re a real Pinot fan, this wine is a “must have.”



{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: