On Sunday I arrived in South Africa to do a 10-day research trip for the WSET, a fantastic opportunity to see the South African wine revolution at first hand. The trip has been organised and in part supported by the Wines of South Africa. This is the national body which promotes the wines, funded by a small levy on all wine exported from this country. And what could be more appropriate to spent part of the first morning with the Chenin Blanc Assocation? – Pinotage follows tomorrow. As I did on my visits to Australia and New Zealand back in 2016, I am going to write some short ‘postcards from …’ posts for this website. Sit back and enjoy.
Having done research with Stellenbosch University, the Chenin Blanc Association is encouraging the promoting of just two main dry styles. Trying to get consumers to get of hold of more than that is counter-productive. ‘Fresh and fruity’ accounts for more than 70% of all volume. Today’s example was Spier, Signature Chenin Blanc 2017, 13.8%. The fruit for this one million litre production comes from across the Coastal Region. Most of it is dry-land farmed; 80% is machine harvested (sorted within the machine, kept cold) at 12-16 tons/hectare. Winemaking is straightforward – six hours of skin contact, reductive handling, inoculated with three selected yeasts, fermented at 12-14ºC, aged on its lees for 3-6 months, all with the aim of freshness and that remarkable aromatic array that warm climate Chenin can manage. This has a wonderful range of pineapple, peach, honey, green apple, the list could go. Delightful everyday drinking at £8 UK retail.
Two Chenins, two styles, two approaches to yield and vinification, two worlds of aromas and textures, two prices. Welcome to the new South Africa.
PS can oaked Chenin age in the bottle? – first-hand proof from the original vintage of Rudera, Robusta, 2000 – a real treat.
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