The wines in this month’s Premium Wine Club tasting come from the Coastal Region of South Africa, which includes Stellenbosch, the Polkadraai Hills, and Swartland. Crafted from old vines, aged 25 to almost 45 years and slowly ripened in the 70°F summer temperatures, these wines are fresh and crisp, bursting with white fruit and floral perfume.
All four producers in this wine tasting lineup represent a relatively new school of winemaking in South Africa, using more progressive techniques like organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, skin contact, and unfiltered bottling to craft four equally unique styles of Chenin Blanc. The wines beautifully combine old-world tradition with a modern edge.
Although some Chenins can age for a decade or longer, most in South Africa are made for immediate enjoyment. This month’s Premium Wine Club from WTSO features four wines from the 2021 & ’22 vintages: almost literally fresh out of the barrel, ready to chill and drink!
The History of South African Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc originated in the Loire Valley of France, where it makes some of the region’s most desired white wine types, including Vouvray wine. The grape was likely taken to South Africa in the 17th century when it was brought to the country by Dutch settlers. Initially, it was used to produce brandy until winemakers realized its potential to create high-quality white wines.
In the 1990s, a new generation of winemakers focused on producing premium Chenin Blanc wines, which have since gained recognition worldwide for their quality and unique character.
Today the “Rainbow Nation” is home to the world’s largest plantings/acreage of Chenin Blanc, with about 50,000 acres under vine. The country represents less than 2% of all vineyard plantings in the world, yet it is in the top ten producers – making a staggering 260 million gallons (1.3 billion bottles) of wine annually. Chenin Blanc is considered one of the country’s flagship grape varieties and is celebrated for its diversity and versatility.
About the Western Cape Wine Region
South Africa is far enough from the equator to be Mediterranean; the climate of the Western Cape is very similar to that of Northern California, Chile, and Southern Australia. The Coastal regions are moderated by the Atlantic and chilled by Arctic currents in some locations. Backed up by mountain ranges and an elevated plateau, the coast provides a long, slow-ripening environment that makes for elegant, racy, mineral-laden wines.
“The Coastal Region wine region of the Western Cape is truly one of the most naturally beautiful regions in the winemaking world. The landscapes vary dramatically from majestic looming mountains to oceans which go on for as far as the eye can see.” winetourism.com
Chenin Blanc Wine and Food Pairing
With its bracing acidity and clean white-fruit flavor profile, Chenin Blanc is a natural partner for fish and shellfish. In the Loire Valley of France, it’s classically paired with an aged goat cheese called Crottin de Chavignol. But one place where it really shines is with Asian and ginger-infused dishes! Chenin Blanc is also an amazing compliment to sushi.
Where Can I Buy Chenin Blanc Wine Online?
South Africa offers some of the best deals for wine! With three bottles in this WTSO monthly wine club charting above 90 points (91 Vinous, 94 Wine Spectator, 95 Decanter), you’ll be tasting world-class Chenin Blancs for much less than their French counterparts! Added bonus, these wines are delivered directly to your door.
Join us for a free online open discussion on June 15! Marc Supsic, dipWSET and WTSO partner wine expert, will host the live wine tasting with our wine subscription community members.