Morné Vrey, the winemaker at Delaire Graff Wine Estate at the top of the Banghoek Pass in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation, has a choice of grapes, not only grown on the Delaire Graff Estate itself, but grapes from other Wine Appellations grown in vineyards which they manage with the owners. So it is with the Delaire Graff Swartland Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017, with grapes from the Swartland Wine Appellation. This is a wine of great stature made from grapes varying from 30 to 40 years in age. Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most widely planted wine grape, with vineyards 6 times larger than those of its place of origin, the Loire Valley in France. The grape is planted in almost all grape growing regions in South Africa.
The grapes for the Delaire Graff Swartland Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017, despite the awful drought the Western Cape has been experiencing, were healthy and disease free, with lighter bunches and smaller berries which meant greater fruit intensity in the final wine, added to that the warm days and cooler nights meant longer hang time which also adds flavour. An amazing vintage. The grapes were hand-picked almost before sunrise into 18 kilo lug boxes to protect the integrity of the grapes. They were taken to the cellar where extensive bunch sorting took place. They were whole bunch pressed, no added sulphur, and the juice taken to barrel fermentation, which took about 2 weeks. French oak barrels were used for the 10 month maturation period. 60% of them were 400 litre barrels and the remainder were 2500 litre Foudre Barrels. During this time no malolactic fermentation took place, nor were the lees stirred. The wine was then prepared for bottling.
It looks like
Bottled under screw cap in a Burgundy shaped bottle with the simple elegant Delaire Graff livery. In the glass, the wine is a pale wheaten colour with lime green flashes.
It smells like
Classical Chenin tropical fruits and sweet limes. Oak and its gentle spices in the background.
It tastes like
From entry a rich full and round palate filler, going right through to a long and gently waning ending. Generous fruit, guava, melon and citrus in the form of lime, lemon and windfall orange. Fynbos honey and white tropical flowers. The balance Morné has achieved, the structure and understated minerality all add to the enjoyment.
It’s good with
Delaire Graff Estate has two restaurants, the eponymous Delaire Graff Restaurant and Indochine, which offers Asian cuisine, of the finest in the Cape. Should you be close at hand, I urge you to visit for a great wine and food experience. I have always thought that the perfect partner for Chenin Blanc is a fine buttery roast organic chicken. It is excellent with Eastern foods, from the delicate curries of Kerala, to the rice paper vegetable rolls of Vietnam, and the gently anaesthetising Szechuan peppercorned strips of chicken or pork. Dianne Bibby’s Wild Rice Chicken Salad with Avocado is a perfect match, with avos in season and summer poking its head around the corner. Click here for her recipe.
Read more about Delaire Graff Wine Estate – CLICK HERE