Hey – any excuse to drink Chenin will do for me! Just in case you were in any doubt, let me just say that Chenin is without a doubt the best thing SA has got going for it wine-wise. Why? Well, we’ve got more than anyone else in the world which gives us greater choice, we’ve got older vines of it than anywhere else in the world which give us more depth of flavour to our wines and we’ve got some of the best Chenin winemakers on earth who’ve dedicated their time and efforts to showcasing this natural wonder in a variety of world-beating forms.
Don’t believe me? Try these six for size…
Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2016 (Around R45 from multiple outlets)
This is my go-to wine when I just want a fresh, zippy, uncomplicated glass of something delicious. It goes with pretty much any food you care to pair it with and you know what? It goes with me too. Zesty yellow apples and pears with a tweak of tropical notes, you should always keep one in the fridge and another two in the cupboard waiting to join it.
Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016 (R100 from major retailers)
I raised an almighty cheer when this wine was awarded Platter Five Stars the other year because not only has this long been my favourite of Ken’s many and varied Chenins, but to get a wine of this quality at under R100 (as it was at the time) was outrageous. Ken says – and I believe him – that however much money you have to spend, you will get more bang for your buck from Chenin than from any other variety and this is the wine to prove it. Fresh citrus, ripe peaches, just a tweak of creamy oak.
Raats Family Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 (R300 from Wine Cellar)
From one Chenin nut to another – Bruwer Raats has made his name creating some of the best-known versions of this grape and this is his version for serious sipping and contemplation. It’s deliciously-fresh with lots of yellow apples, hints of spice and cream and an endless finish. Worth every cent, delivers an evening of outstanding drinking. If you want a tad more zip, try the Unwooded Original Chenin too.
The great thing about Chenin in SA is that we get to blend it with lots of other delicious grape varieties into a white Cape Blend. Check out these three.
DMZ Concerto 2015 (R69.95 from good supermarkets)
I bought this for a wine course I was teaching in Joburg and it struck me yet again that Woollies are pretty canny when it comes to getting own-label wines. This is a blend of Roussanne, Viognier, Chenin and Chardonnay and they all meld together into a truly-tasty mouthful of yellow and green fruit. It’s named Concerto because De Morgenzon (who make this wine) like to play classical music to their vines. Works for me.
Riebeek Cellars Short Street CGV 2015 (R76 cellar door)
I first came across this wine last year when I tasted it for Platter and I’m not at all surprised that the price has crept up slightly because to get this much flavour for R50 was ridiculous. It’s still a great buy at this price – 50% Chenin, then Grenache Blanc and Viognier making up the balance. Fresh peaches, ginger and creamy spice – delicious with anything piggy.
Bosman Adama White 2015 (R150 cellar door)
Corlea Fourie is celebrating 10 years at Bosman’s and is making the wines of her life at the moment. Her Pinotage which won big at the Old Mutual is possibly the finest example of that grape I’ve ever had and this wine, her white Cape Blend is always equally-stunning. Based on Chenin with tweaks of a further 6 varieties, it is a rich and delicious mouthful of tropical fruit, ripe stone fruit and zesty acidity.
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