“It’s a little known fact, but a fact all the same, that South African Chenin Blanc wines are among the world’s finest” according to the Chenin Blanc Association – and after yesterday’s celebration of Chenin Blanc it was clear why.
Did you know?
- Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted varietal in SA and consists of over 50 % of worlds plantings.
- Chenin Blanc has a long and interesting history in South Africa and is believed to be amongst the first vine cuttings that arrived here in 1655 during the time of Governor Jan van Riebeeck.
- It provides a fairly neutral palate for the expression of terroir, vintage variation and the winemaker’s treatment.
- Though France is the viticultural home of Chenin blanc, by the turn of the 21st century there was twice as much Chenin blanc planted in South Africa as there was in France.
- It is planted in all the wine producing regions of South Africa, with the biggest areas under production in the Breedekloof, Olifants River, Paarl, Swartland and Worcester.
- It has been labelled a workhorse in South Africa, as it is used to produce natural dry to natural sweet white table wines, sparkling, dessert and fortified wines. It is also used as a blend with various other cultivars.
- South Africa is considered as one of the leading producers of top quality Chenin blanc wines in the world.
I believe some of of the best wines that come out of South Africa right now are Chenin Blanc based. It’s had a modern revival and is basting in all her glory.
“Chenin Blanc is a torchbearer and signature for South African white wine”
Chenin is raking in awards, locally and abroad, and moving the South African wine industry forward, it would seem as if there is more momentum than ever and the Chenin star is shining bright! Amongst a spate of new releases, and some very exciting wines, Chenin is clearly the basis of a new found quality white wine segment. The Chenin Blanc Association is dedicated to ensuring that South African Chenin Blanc takes its rightful place with the other great white wines of the world.
“The growing focus on Chenin by international tastemakers has undoubtedly raised the quality benchmark,” says the association’s chairman, Ken Forrester. “It’s fair to say that the recent international Chenin Blanc congress, held in Angers, France, demonstrated to delegates just how far South African producers have succeeded with the variety, in terms of both quality and stylistic range.”
My highlights from yesterday’s Grand Chenin Blanc Party, which showcased 43 of the 139 members included two new Chenin Blanc’s and the first from Hemel and Aarde and Walker Bay; better known for Chenin Blanc’s rival Chardonnay;
Creation Cool-Climate Chenin Blanc 2019.
A bouquet of gentle ginger, tender tomato leaf, apple skin and sweet melon casts the first spell. On the palate the magic unfolds with crispy quince and fresh green apple flirting with notes of tangy citrus. A cool-climate Chenin Blanc as remarkable in its purity as it is in its joyous complexity. R195
Radford Dale – The Revelation – Chenin Blanc 2018 – Walker Bay – This is their first vintage, Jacques stumbled on this old single vineyard when on the hunt for Pinot Noir! A beautiful Chenin, subtlety oaked, mouthwatering citrus fruit, mineral core. Available exclusively from Frogitt & Vonkel Frogitt & Vonkel online. R370
Carl Everson – Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2018.
Attractively opulent texture with ripe citric flavours. The oak is well handled and the wine has good length on the finish. R195
Dirty Little Secret Two NV by Ken Forrester
aka The Chenin King, and The Chairman of The Chenin Blanc Association. A natural wine from remarkable 55 year old vines, it’s indulgent and decadent and absolutely delicious. R1100
Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2018.
My discovery of the day. Displays lightness, delicacy and a vibrant character. A mineral core with floral nuances and a dynamic acidity. R275
Mariëtte Chenin Blanc 2018
The flagship and highly awarded offering from Stofberg Family Vineyards, another of the Breedekloof producers intent on making a name with this particular variety. From a 33-year-old vineyard, Floral nose with tropical fruit tones. Welcomed stone fruit with a hint of citrus. Lightly spiced. Intricately balanced, racy acidity. Rich and elegant- all round a wonderful Chenin Blanc.
AMYAH Chenin Blanc 2018
Rich and graceful, peach, floral nuances and a slight nuttiness made this a wonderful first tasting! R200
Kaapzicht 1947 Chenin Blanc 2018.
One of my favourite wines of 2019. from 72 year old vines; a wine that comforts you and reassures you! Dusty road, naartjie juice, candied pineapple, all tied together with a delicate acidity. Complex, dense and delicious. R500
Chenin Blanc plays a huge part of our wine heritage and has an exciting future. The world is paying attention and these wines are why. Chenin Blanc is that beautiful next door neighbour that know one had really noticed until suddenly she flourished; Compelling, elegant and so charming. She is Miss South Africa; and everyone loves her; local and internationally.
Some more information on Chenin Blanc from one of my favourite websites; winefolly.com
Chenin Blanc Wine Profile
Chenin Blanc Characteristics
FRUIT: yellow apple, quince, pear, baked apple, bruised apple, passion fruit, lime, honeydew melon, peach, persimmon, mandarin orange
OTHER: lemon verbena, ginger, honey, honeysuckle, jasmine, chamomile, saffron, apple blossom, coleslaw (oxidative styles), sake, cheese rind(oxidative styles), hay
OAK: buttered popcorn, butterscotch, lemon curd, nutmeg, baked apple, graham cracker, meringue, marzipan, brioche
ACIDITY: medium-plus to high acidity