There’s been a little nip in the air recently and I am definitely getting the feeling that warm sunny evenings may be drawing to a close very soon. Which is fine by me, because it is now an opportunity to open all the slightly fuller-bodied white wines I’ve been squirrelling away whilst I glug down all the summer Sauvignons.
Chardonnay and wooded Chenin are always delicious bets as the weather cools down a little, mainly because you don’t need to chill them to the extent you would a Sauvignon or unwooded Chenin. Here are 4 nicely-wooded, well-balanced versions for you to try this month.
Doran Vineyards Barrel-fermented Chenin Blanc 2012 R69 cellar door.
This is a new farm in the Paardeberg owned by Irish travel operator, Edwin Doran. Edwin has been visiting SA for many years with touring school sports teams and it seems a logical progression for him to now buy vineyards and set up his new label with cape wine legend, Andre Badenhorst.
They describe themselves as just two old boys, having fun, but their new winemaker, Martin Lamprecht is making sure that the wines are taken seriously.
Fermented in old oak, some lees-contact and some malolactic, this is an accomplished wine with bags of flavour, lovely ripe fruits, crisp acidity and a price point that makes the second bottle a mere matter of course.
Bosman Family Wines Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2011 R200 cellar door
Is there anything better to drink in SA than old-vine Chenin Blanc? Increasingly, I am tending to think not, and this is one of the reasons why. These vines have been in this spot in the Wellington wine valley for more than 60 years, becoming gnarled, bent and bowed but every year producing some of the finest grapes, packed with flavour.
Winemaker Corlea Fourie was blown away by these barrels when she first tasted them, singling out this vineyard for special treatment ever since. She uses natural fermentation to enhance these flavours and the resulting wine is balanced, rich, elegant and totally delicious.
Van Loveren Christina van Loveren Limited Release Chardonnay 2012 R77 cellar door
One of my favourite wooded Chardonnays and always one of the best value. Robertson Wine Valley and Chardonnay go together like fish and chips – ooh, now that would be a nice combination with this wine! It’s been in new oak but only for 5 months so although it’s spicy, it’s still subtle which is very important.
Winemaker Danelle Conradie devotes a lot of time and energy to this top range and with the vast and mighty reserves of Van Loveren fruit to choose from, is always able to secure something special for the CVL wines. Try it with fish and chips – I wasn’t kidding – a succulent piece of beer-battered hake with hand-cut wedges and a twist of lemon. Perfect.
Overgaauw Chardonnay 2012 R84 cellar door
There’s a fresh new look to the wines from this historic estate – the first in SA to make Merlot, one of the only ones to ever make Sylvaner and one of the first to create a Bordeaux-style blend. But looking backwards doesn’t move you on and winemaker David Van Velden, the 4th generation of his family to make wine here – isn’t in the business of wallowing in nostalgia.
The winemaking here is sharp and on point with lots of balance and freshness to this wine and the 100% oak-fermentation is delicate and supportive rather than otherwise. It’s always great to see changes for the better and with these new labels reflecting the quality of the wine inside, I think David is setting up the farm nicely for the generations to come.