93

2017 Domaine Cady Cheninsolite, Anjou, Loire Valley

( £13.99, 14%, Waitrose )

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-25Similar Wines: £10-£20, 90-94, France, White, Chenin Blanc
90

2014 Domaine des Garennes Empreinte Blanc, Saumur, Loire Valley

( €10, 13, Contact the winery for details )

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2017-20Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, White, Chenin Blanc
91

2014 The Tea Leaf Chenin Blanc, Piekenierskloof

( £12.49, 14%, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Noel Young Wines, Woodwinters Wines )

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.

Drinking window: 2015-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
94

2014 Patatsfontein Steen, Montagu

( £29.95, 13.5%, Edgmond Wines )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-22Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
90

2013 Raats Granite Blocks Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region

( £8.61, 13.5%, Majestic )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-2018Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc

Braver New World

by Matt Walls
“Sorry I’m late sir. Ignore the bandage, I had an unexpected visit to the hospital to get my ear seen to. Anyway – I understand you’d like me to paint...
88

2012 Zalze Chenin Blanc Reserve, Coastal Region

( £9.99, 13.5%, Sainsbury's )

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. 

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
88

2012 Ken Forrester Workhorse Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch

( £7.99 down to £5.99, 14%, Marks )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
89

2009 The Liberator (This Bird Has Flown), Swartland

( £11.95, 14.5%, The Wine Society )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, South Africa, White, Bical, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Clairette, Viognier