Yesterday I attended the Chenin Blanc Showcase, a tasting of a selection of 50 Chenin Blanc wines, at the Cape Grace Hotel. Chenin Blanc is a cultivar growing in popularity, and we tasted the different styles of Chenin Blanc.
A number of writers was invited, and our welcome drink was a glass of sparkling wine, one of four Chenin Blanc MCCs poured. With the welcome drink a generous supply of oysters was offered. To line our tummies for the tasting to come we were offered a spicy carrot soup.
A total of 50 Chenin Blanc wines was selected by a panel led by Jeff Grier of Villiera. The wines were segmented into the following style categories:
# MCC : Filia MCC 2014 by Huis van Chevallerie, Sparklehorse 2014 by Ken Forrester Wines, Perdeberg Winery Brut Reserve MCC 2012, and Wildekrans MCC 2013.
# Fresh and Fruity/ Sur Lie / Lightly Wooded: Darling Cellars Reserve Arum Fields Chenin Blanc 2017; Diemersfontein Chenin Blanc 2017; Overhex Balance Winemaker’s Selection Chenin Blanc 2016; Stellenrust Chenin Blanc 2016; Painted Wolves The Den Chenin Blanc 2016; Bester Chenin Blanc 2016 (left); Vinum Chenin Blanc 2016; Mulderbosch ‘Steen op Hout’ 2016; Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2016; Tierhoek Chenin Blanc 2015; The Fledge & Co Hoeksteen 2015; and Doran Chenin Blanc 2014.
# Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc: Kaapzicht 1947 Chenin 2016; Remhoogte Honeybunch Chenin Blanc 2016; L’Avenir Single Block Chenin Blanc 2016; Delaire Graff Swartland Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016; Mont Blois Groot Steen 2016; Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Quattor 2015; Bosman Family Vineyards Optenhorst 2015; Vrede en Lust Kogelberg Chenin Blanc 2015; KWV The Mentors Chenin Blanc 2015; Uniwines Daschbosch Steen 2015; Jordan Inspector Péringuey Chenin Blanc 2015; and Raats Eden High Density SV Chenin Blanc 2014.
# Rich & Ripe/ Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc: Ken Forrester Dirty Little Secret No1 2015; Botanica Mary Delaney 2015 (a wine brand with beautiful wine labels, and a passionate American winemaker Ginny
Povall); Land of Hope Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015; Cederberg Five Generations Chenin Blanc 2015; Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2016; Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Chenin Blanc 2016; MAN Tormentoso Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2016; DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016; Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2016; Opstal Estate Carl Everson Chenin Blanc 2016; Botha Barrel Fermented Bush Vine 2014; and Avondale Anima Chenin Blanc 2014.
# Chenin Blanc Blends: Boland One Formation Chenin Blanc/Sauvignon Blanc/Viognier 2016; Lammershoek Terravinum White Reserve 2016; Yardstick Marvelous Yellow Blend 2015; Bergsig Icarus White 2015; Villiera Antithesis 2015; Jacaranda Chenin Blanc 2014; Fable Mountain Vineyards Jackal Bird 2014; and Adoro Wines Naude White Blend 2008, the oldest Chenin Blanc in the Showcase.
# Older Chenin Blancs Rich and Ripe /Barrel Fermented Chenin Blancs: Breeland Marais Family Wines Chenin Blanc Royal 2014; Rudera Robusto 2013; Rijk’s Reserve Chenin Blanc 2013; and Simonsig Chenin Avec Chene 2010.
# Dessert Wines: Perdeberg The Dryland Natural Sweet 2016, Lutzville Francois Le Vaillant NLH 2015, and Tierhoek Chenin Blanc Straw Wine NV.
We were welcomed by Chenin Blanc Association Exco member Sebastian Beaumont (right), who thanked all present for bracing the cold to attend the Showcase. He said that the Association wanted to showcase as many Chenin Blancs as possible. He thanked Standard Bank for its sponsorship of the Chenin Challenge, which awards the top ten Chenin Blanc producers with an (increased) prize of R25000 each this year, to be used for social upliftment on the winning wine estates. Cathy van Zyl will head up the team of judges evaluating the top ten winners, with other local judges, including sommeliers, as well as a representative of Wine Enthusiast.
Sebastian acknowledged the role of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), in publicizing Chenin Blanc Day this past Saturday, by Tweeting about it in each of the countries in which WOSA has marketing offices. He mentioned with delight that American winemakers are following our local trend of making Old Vine Chenin Blancs. Sebastian acknowledged the role of Ina Smith and Christina Harvett in running the Chenin Blanc Association. Many were sad that Nicolette Waterford was not present, having handled the Publicity for the association for many years without charge.
I enjoyed chatting to Adam Mason, whose Marvelous Yellow Blend wine was one in the Chenin Blanc Blend segment. He told me that Greenhouse Chef Peter Tempelhoff is no longer a partner with him in Yardstick, a company they had established jointly. They are still good friends, Adam assured me. Adam calls his Yellow Blend the ‘Heritage Blend’, due to the age of four of the five cultivars in his wine: the Chenin Blanc grapes come from two blocks, one planted in the 1960s and the other in the 1970s (45%); Muscat de Frontignan vines were planted in the 1980s (14%); Semillon vines (14%) date back to 1936; and Clairette Blanche (12%) to the 1980s. The Chardonnay vines (15%) are young. The Chenin Blanc grapes were sourced from Old Vines in the Piekenierskloof and Helderberg; the Semillon grapes came from Franschhoek; and the Muscat de Frontignan and Clairette Blanche grapes were sourced from Polkadraai in Stellenbosch, and these two cultivars were co-fermented.
The food served after the introductory oysters and soup was of a very high standard, personally prepared by Cape Grace Chef Malika van Reenen, and included the following:
# Seared scallops and cauliflower purée canapés (right)
# Mushroom ragout in puff pastry canapés
# Smoked honey-glazed salmon with pineapple salsa bowl food, the smoking having been done in-house by using old French wine barrels, I was told by Josh Crowe, the Signal Restaurant Manager at the Cape Grace (left). Josh was extremely helpful in bringing the trays with dishes to me so that I could photograph them, before they were served to the other guests.
# Glazed pork belly with ginger, and sweet potato purée, as bowl food (right)
# Seared kingklip topped with crispy onion and gremolata, as bowl food
# Caramelised chick pea salad, as a bowl dish
# Grilled chicken, served with sticky rice, and Thai green curry as bowl food
The desserts were equally impressive:
# a stand with lavender, orange, and caramel macarons
# Apple Tarte Tatin as well as gooseberries with white chocolate crème.
Disclosure: I received a bottle of DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016 with the media pack.
Chenin Blanc Showcase, Chenin Blanc Association. Cell 082 467 4331 www.chenin.co.za Twitter: @CheninBlancSA Instagram: @cheninblancsa
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein