The kind of thing that wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of New Wave South African Chenin Blancs, this superb organic Loire Valley example from Alexandre Cady has a winning combination of richness, lees-derived complexity, subtle 30% new oak and thrilling acidity. Flavours of pear, apple and quince combine beautifully on the palate with undertones of baking spices and a long, refreshing finish.
Youthful, pithy and still quite tight, this barrel-fermented Chenin needs more time in bottle to show what it’s really capable of. Apple, citrus and pear flavours are complemented by stony minerality, some vanilla spice and a tangy, focused finish.
Sourced from vineyards at 750 metres (which is high for South Africa), this was made by the talented Donovan Rall from the under-rated Piekenierskloof region. Tangy, refreshing and crisp, it’s tauter than some Cape Chenins with apple, pear and herbal notes and a creamy mid palate.
This is my white wine discovery of the year in my recently published South Africa report. Sourced fromthe little-known area of Montagu, it’s a brilliant Chenin Blanc (Steen) made by three friends, including the talented Reenen Boorman of Boschkloof. Formerly sold off to the local co-op, these grapes have produced something remarkable in the first vintage under their own label: saline, textured and mealy with some skin tannins, wax and spice and perfectly judged oak. One of the Cape’s best Chenins.
Bruwer Raats makes some of the best Chenin Blancs in South Africa, expressing precision and place rather than tropical fruit flavours. This Fairtrade-accredited example is very lightly oaked, with just a whiff of cinnamon and vanilla to complement the pear, citrus and stone fruit nuances. Tangy and refreshing with a stony bite.
Rich, unoaked Chenin Blanc made in an unoaked style, Florent Baumard’s wine is quite forward in style, with soft pear and ripe apple flavours, a touch of honey and some nectarine sweetness. A well priced introduction to sweet Loire wines.
Kleine Zalze deserves to be more famous than it is in South Africa. It consistently turns out a very good range of commercial wines, as well as smaller quantities of top end stuff. This belongs in the latter category and it’s a great example of ripe, tropically fruity Cape Chenin. Pineapple and melon notes are balanced by the refreshing acidity that’s the variety’s calling card and rounded out by subtle oak fermentation.
Ken “Mr Chenin” Forrester has done as much as anyone to resurrect the reputation of the Cape’s best white variety in the last decade or so. This off-dry example from 35-year-old vines is typical of his deceptively drinkable style. Nutmeg spice, pear and an undertone of tropical fruit combine nicely here, with Chenin’s characteristic acidity providing a bite of welcome acidity.
This Cape blend of Chenin, Viognier, Chardonnay and Clairetter Blanche won’t be to everyone’s taste – it’s got some age to it and a developed, Sherry-like not – but I salute its ambiiton and left field flavours. Rich and honeyed, with some vanilla and nutmeg spice, fresh acidity and bags of concentration. Appealingly funky.