Courting Chenin Blanc

Courting Chenin Blanc

I’m a wine drinker and I love chenin blanc. It’s not just the darling of SA’s vineyards (a term it is given because of the relative ease of growth and maintenance), but it’s a darling for being so versatile and so loving to winemakers.

South Africa is the world’s largest producer of chenin blanc and rightly so. It’s a variety that ages well, can go from zesty and fresh to creamy and luscious and with wide-ranging price points, it’s everyone’s best friend.

I had the fortune of sitting down at Delaire Graff to taste 22 “Winter Chenins”, chosen for their rich and fuller flavours.

The third annual chenin tasting was a celebration of South Africa’s most planted cultivar as well as being an opportunity to meet and greet the new sponsors to the Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa (CBSA), Standard Bank (few things are more amusing than bankers drinking flights of wine for the first time).

Displaying varied styles, the chenins on show at the tasting were unique and diverse, wonderful accompaniments to cooler evenings. All the wines were serious contenders for my heart, with prices starting at R66 and going up to R359; “expect to pay more and you will be rewarded.”

What to drink this winter

Beaumont Hope Margeurite 2013 R185 – Deliciously creamy and nutty.

Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Block W 2013 R500 for a 3-pack – A fantastic idea for a wine evening with friends. Buy the set and compare the vineyards.

Delaire Graff 2013 R130 – Fresh, clean and great for everyday drinking.

Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection 2013 R66 – the only wine on show with no wood contact. Lots of white fruit.

Cederberg Five Generations 2011 R210 – Entirely different style from the others but a true testimony to Cederberg’s signature flavours. Will age incredibly well.

Rudera de Tradisie 2009 R120 – Fantastic price for an award-winning wine.

What to pair it with

Chenin is not just versatile in the cellar; it loves such a wide variety of foods. From Mediterranean spices to flavours of Asia, richer and sweeter styles will even take on sweet dishes such as baked apples and maple-cured bacon.

For the older, broader styles of chenin, try the following 3 recipes:

Saucy Asian Meatballs. Click here for the recipe

French Onion Tart. Click here for the recipe

Roast Pork with Apple Sauce. Click here for the recipe

Where you can taste chenin in the winelands

Ken Forrester – Head here for a chenin blanc tasting starting at the entry level Petit range and finishing with the grand master, the FMC

Mulderbosch – Compare vineyards and vintages at this winery.

Kleine Zalze – Another great winery to sample chenin and, if you’re feeling adventurous afterwards, you can end your tasting with a round of golf.