Chenin Blanc took another step towards being hailed asSouth Africa’s premier calling card.
The ever energetic Chenin Blanc Association hosted a tasting of ‘winter wines’ at the spectacularly located Delaire Graff wine farm this week.
“We called it the winter wines tasting because we are aware of media deadlines and also because these are wines made in the richer, riper style,” said Chenin Blanc Association kingpin Ken Forrester.
In the lineup were 25 still wines, whittled down by an Association tasting panel from more than 55, and four spectacular dessert wines. Vintages on display ranged from 2011 to 2006. It was interesting to see how remarkably different the wines were. Levels of perceived acidity, fruit spectrum and expression, residual sugar and sweetness varied with the most noticeable element of all being the wooding.
Naturally, as richer, riper styled wines these have had greater exposure to oak but the subtlety of the wooding and the resultant impact on the final wine was fascinating. For some it was very apparent not just in terms of its contribution to flavour – vanilla/butterscotch/creaminess – but also with regard to mouthfeel, texture and resultant size of the wine.
While the tasting demonstrated the massive strides that this humble grape has taken in the past 15 years it was over lunch that its versatility was truly showcased.
Indochine restaurant is attached to the luxury boutique hotel at Delaire Graff and sports markedly different views to the main restaurant and patio area. It looks northwest, over Stellenbosch with the Simonsberg on the right flank while the latter peers down the valley to the east, with the Simonsberg on the left and the craggy rockfaces of the Drakenstein mountains on the right.
As the name indicates, Indochine takes its influence fromAsia– and the five-course meal was superb. People were free to match the wines tasted earlier to the various dishes – a deliciously fiery tom yum goong soup, red duck breast curry, seafood medley redolent with green and red chillies and fennel with a delicate sweet/sour balance and a wasabi and lime panacotta which had all sorts of zingy flavour elements – like passionfruit jelly.
No other grape variety could have done justice to these assertive flavours. Our table ran through an assortment wines and rejected them because they are just not capable of adapting.
Versatility and flavour set Chenin Blanc apart.