If you have been following my pour decisions for some time; this is a wine that pops up over and over. I had never paid much attention to Riesling until I was first blessed with a sip of Jessica’s 2018 Chi. It was one of those wine moments that you’ll never forget. The wine took me by surprise; I had naively assumed all Rieslings were on the sweeter spectrum and smelt like vaseline. The Chi Riesling, however, was bone dry, vibrant and intoxicating, with an inoffensive racy acidity. It is only apt that Jessica would draw my attention to this noble varietal, as a self-proclaimed Riesling warrior and at the forefront of a South African Riesling Revival.
Two vintages later, and I am now no stranger to the wine, nor its beautiful maker. Tonight was the highly anticipated launch of the 2020 Chi Riesling. We were treated to a mini vertical of the three vintages; 2020 / 2019 / 2018. It’s always a huge test to put a newly released wine, up against its predecessor; there will naturally always be a considerable variation. A year in bottle makes a significant impact on a wine. And Riesling, in particular, ages ever so gracefully and loves a bit of extra time to shine. I remember the 2018 was my go-to white wine on wine lists in restaurants, then the vintage progressed onto the 2019 and it didn’t excite me as much. Tasting the 2019 tonight, it was singing, far surpassing it’s older sister, and stealing the attention away from the star of the show, the 2020.
But as one of my favourite winemakers always points out; the year on the bottle is not its sell-by date. The 2020 was a little shy tonight on the nose but it’s still infantile and shows huge promise. There is definitely no shortage of potential, a lovely precision and pronounced acidity runs through; noticeable traits in Jessica’s wines. 2020 was a very cool vintage that allowed for longer hang time and later ripening, ideal for the grape to develop its full and complex array of aromas. Spirited citrus notes, yellow stone fruits, a flinty minerality, beautiful wafts of jasmine and honeysuckle.
Jessica’s enthusiasm and dedication to reviving this aromatic Queen of Whites is evident in her Chi Riesling. A seriously stylish and smart Riesling that would be the most exciting partner to an array of fragrant cuisine, but also very happy in its own company.
Chi Riesling 2020
– PRODUCTION 5900 BOTTLES BY JESSICA SAURWEIN
60% of the blend’s fruit comes from Casey’s Ridge Vineyard, Elgin on loamy and very rocky red slate soils. (Riesling clones WR110F and vineyard was planted 2011.)
The other 40% of the blend De Rust Vineyard, Elgin on decomposed Bokkeveld Shale. (Riesling clones 110 & 239 and vineyard was planted 2006.)
2020 was a great vintage with a cool late ripening for Riesling
Keywords for this vintage: palate weight, texture, citrus aromas
Grapes are hand-picked, cooled, then hand-sorted, destemmed and pressed. Spontaneous fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, which lasted about 6 weeks until optimal residual sugar balance achieved. The wine was prepared for bottling and bottled after 3 months in tank and released after another 2 months in bottle.
Fragrant orange blossom, green melon, lime, Yellow stone fruits, piña colada, honeysuckle, flint
Chi means “life force” and Chi stands for CHIUTA (an African rain god).
Situated in the fertile Elgin valley, the picturesque vineyard site inspired
the creation of this crisp, handcrafted Riesling.
If you like – Ideal Cuisine:
Salads | cheeses | Asian-style dishes with a bit of spice/ sweetness
Residual Sugar: 7,8 g/l
Total acidity: 7,0 g/l