At this time of year, many of us change over to drinking more red wine than white. But if we still prefer things on the pale side, we must get into Chenins – white wines with enough body and chops to go with winter food whilst still keeping it fresh and lively if the sun does decide to shine.
Check out these ones which I’ve received lately...
Porcupine Ridge Chenin Blanc 2014 (R40 from most retailers)
Jeez, these guys are over-deliverers of note! This is a new release for them and comes from dry-farmed Swartland fruit. It’s been left unwooded which goes a little way to explaining the excellent value price but its concentrated, bright, yellow fruit doesn’t really need oak. Try it with a mild winter curry.
Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Chenin Blanc 2015 (R63 from major retailers)
This was sent to me with some pickled fish for Easter – and very good it was too! Made in a light, everyday drinking style, this nevertheless has enough weight to handle some fairly spicy food, particularly aromatic curries or soups. It’s one of those wines which clearly has a hole in the bottom of the bottle – it’s the only explanation as to how it emptied so quickly!
Doran Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2013 (R75 cellar door)
This is a much richer style of Chenin than the others, partly because it has a little bottle age but also because winemaker Martin Lamprecht has given it plenty of lees contact and naturally-fermented it in old, small barrels , all of which adds up to rich pineapple and cooked apple notes enlivened with good acidity and a touch of spice. Can probably handle any curry with ease.
Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2015 (R77 cellar door)
KZ are chenin specialists making several different versions of SA’s favourite white grape. This one is probably the most suitable for Winter as it’s been enriched with a touch of subtle oak, rounding out the lovely tropical fruit and making it a great partner for Winter pork or chicken dishes.
Waterkloof Seriously Cool 2015 (R95 cellar door)
This comes from the Helderberg where it’s grown as bushvines and is made with as little intervention from winemaker Nadia Barnard as possible. Natural ferment, very old oak, time on the lees all add up to a rich and savoury wine with a warming alcohol and plenty of tropical fruit flavours. Try it with Moroccan lamb with almonds and cumin.
Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2015 (R140 cellar door)
I believe this is still the only Chenin Blanc planted in the Banghoek Valley and when you taste this wine, you really have to ask yourself why this is. This stuff is cool and elegant with lovely stone fruit and citrus enhanced by just a tad of oak. It’s serious and weighty but has lively acidity freshening it up making it a great partner for Cape Malay food.
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- Cathy Marston