Formerly sold as plainer Blanc de Scala Dei, this rare and unusual white hails from an east-facing site at 700 metres, planted with Garnacha Blanca and Chenin Blanc in the late 1960s and 1980s, when the idea of climate change was unheard of. Co-fermented in cement tanks, before ageing in wooden foudres, this 80/20 blend is taut, refreshing and leesy, with stony intensity, citrus and wild flower notes, a drizzle of beeswax and a long intense finish. Should age well too.
South Africa’s white blends are some of its most distinctive wines, even if they remain comparatively difficult to sell, given most consumers’ preference for varietal Chardonnays, Chenins and Sauvignon Blancs. More’s the pity! This is a superb five-way blend from one of the best white wine producers in Stellenbosch, dominated by almost equal parts Roussanne, Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc, with lesser amounts of Viognier and Chardonnay Mixing oak and concrete egg-fermented portions, it’s creamy, herbal and citrus-driven, with subtle wood, honeysuckle and baking spice aromas and flavours of peach, pear and quince.
Unirrigated bush vines planted in 1983 supply the fruit for this intense, focused, naturally fermented Chenin Blanc from this exceptional family-owned business in the Bottelary Hills. Elegantly oaked, it’s balanced and nuanced with pear, citrus and apple fruit and refreshingly low alcohol. Just the thing to drink on #drinkcheninblanc day tomorrow.
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.