Red gets all the press, all the glory, all the girls! White gets relegated to aperitif status or something to drink when it’s hot, when the dish is light or the wine not that important.
I would love to end all that. Don’t get me wrong, I do love red wine and white wine, but I have a great passion for old white wines and I have a desire to enlighten people about the beauties of matured white wine. Especially Chenin Blanc.
Someone once said that White wine is the Catherine Deneuve of the wine world… elegant, subtle, gorgeous and sophisticated. And like Ms Deneuve it only gains charm with time.
Being fortunate enough to travel and spend time also in the Loire in France, I have learned to taste wine, drink wine and mostly to be proud of South African wines.
Looking back I want to share the pleasure of tasting through some glorious old Chenin Blancs…. here are some highlights:
1934 Huët Vouvray Moelleux Le Haut-Lieu
1945 Huët Vouvray Moelleux Le Haut-Lieu
1947 Huët Vouvray Moelleux Le Haut-Lieu
What a treat to taste such old Chenin Blanc wines! How do you describe wines this old? It feels inadequate to say that I really liked it. It is not even adequate to say that I respect it! The 1934 showed great complexity with honey, hay, minerals and dried yellow fruit. Age has dried it out a bit making it more of a table wine than a dessert wine. This prove that these wines not only last, but evolve and change, making it actually worthwhile to cellar. This is a graceful and poised wine.
The 1945 was impressive – truly impressive. It was bright gold in colour with an intoxicating fragrance combining caramel, baked apple, stone fruits, wool, honey and so much more. The remarkable freshness and brightness on the palate produced a sense of real harmony and seamlessness to the flavours and stunning persistence. What a great experience. What a treat.
The 1947 was amber in colour and it seemed that this wine would have actually benefitted from a few hours of decanting as it opened up in the glass with the last sip being the best. It showed a great mix of youthful fruit and the complexity of age with great caramel aromas, stone fruit and earthy aromas and flavours. The sweet character lingered on the Moelleux borderline, providing lots of charm and finesse with moderate length.
These wines are something for the senses, not for the brain. It is wines like these awesome old white wines that shaped me, challenged me, and inspired me! It gives me a hope that I can be as vibrant and full of life at that age, with years of life ahead of me. More than that, it taught me that the taste of wine is not static. The experiences, the people and the stories have created in me an appreciation and a focus on classic old school wines. It moved me to produce Chenin Blanc wines that stay unique and truly represent their origins, their vintages and above all their individual character. At Rudera we are striving to achieve an essentially South African character in our Chenin Blanc that reflect their origins in terms of terroir, wines with a sense of place.
The Nederburg Auction on the 12th and 13th September 2014 gives an opportunity to experience some older vintage Chenin blanc wines. Beautifully matured and scarce wines such as the following are on offer:
Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2003
Rudera Chenin Blanc 2004
De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc 2005
Open your mind to old white wines and experience wine with all your senses!