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Is there anything more adaptable and pleasing for summer than Chenin Blanc? The more I drink these fabulous wines in all their diversity, the more I want to explore and try others. Here is a range of some of the best to come my way recently, including more than a smattering of new names and interesting techniques.
Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2016 R50
There are two reasons why I keep going to my favourite Thai restaurant – firstly, I can walk there which means I can drink and secondly – what is it that I drink? I drink this wine. This is pretty much my summer all-day, every-day quaffer – goes with everything, doesn’t get upset if you lob the odd block of ice in it, works with or without food, pleases fussy Sauvignon and Chardonnay-lovers alike and is a damn fine price. Summer = sorted.
Bosman Family Vineyards Bo Vallei Chenin Blanc 2016 R60
Bosman winemaker, Corlea Fourie, is a Chenin master, making several different versions at their beautiful cellars in Wellington. This one is unwooded but has spent a goodly-amount of time on the lees allowing some creamy richness to offset the lively lemons and pineapple fruit. Smartly-packaged and at an excellent price, this is a genuine crowd-pleaser and should be bought in bulk this summer!
Asara Vineyard Collection Chenin Blanc 2015 R80
New things are afoot at this Stellenbosch winery, one of which is packaging, I’m pleased to see, giving this really thoroughly-enjoyable wine a smart, modern look. It’s just won big in Japan (as the song goes) and I can easily see how this would marry well with Japanese food – delicate peaches and other stone fruits balanced by lively acidity and a hint of cream and spice. Lovely.
Badsberg Wooded Chenin Blanc 2015 R110
Unusually, this wine has been aged in American oak barrels as opposed to what might be considered the more normal French ones but it hasn’t done the wine any harm at all, in fact, it’s done the opposite, giving it a sweetness of ripe stone fruit (although the wine is still dry) and a rich creamy vanilla warmth which makes it perfect for partnering slightly-spicy foods. Think creamy Thai chicken curries or even better – Peri-peri prawns on the braai.
Stofberg Family Vineyards Mariëtte Chenin Blanc 2015 R175
Lots of interesting wines coming forth from the Breedekloof region at the moment and this is definitely one of them. Winemaker Mariëtte Coetzee (nee Stofberg) decided to keep back the fruit her family had been supplying to other farmers and make the wine herself, starting small with a delicious unwooded Chenin and now launching this, her new flagship range. It’s a serious player in this crowded market with layers of yellow stone-fruit and wonderfully-balanced acidity and oak.
Grande Provence Amphora Chenin Blanc 2015 R600
What an interesting wine this is! Made in a clay amphora or egg-shaped vessel, this is a wine of unusual texture, richness and depth. The idea is that the wine can gently and naturally refresh itself during fermentation, stirring up lees and tannins and giving far more body than you would normally expect in a Chenin. A touch of Muscat and Viognier skins enhance the aromatics and make for a really special, special-occasion wine all-round.
- Cathy Marston