International Chenin Blanc Day is upon us and we celebrate this amazing South African Wine Grape. I say South African as it is the largest wine grape planted in our vineyards, 6 times that of its acknowledged home in the Loire Valley in North Central France. The 2019 Vintage was the first after the worst drought in living memory was broken in the winter of 2018. The weather leading up to the harvest was otherwise during bud break and flowering with resulting uneven bunches and smaller berries. However, the acidity profile and balanced flavours resulted in some fine white wines.
The grapes were hand harvested in the Swartland from 30 – 40-year-old wines. Bunches were sorted and the grapes whole bunch pressed and then barrel fermented for 14 days. Maturation, after fermentation, with 60% of the wine in 400 litre barrels and the balance in 2500 litre Foudre [French for a large Oak barrel.] During this time, no malolactic fermentation took place, nor was batonnage applied to retain as much freshness as possible. The wine was then prepared for bottling.
From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with a screw cap. The label is classic Delaire Graff, simple elegant. In the glass the wine is a gem bright light wheaten colour with youthful green flashes. The aromas and palate are in perfect unity. All the Chenin Boxes ticked. Layers of tropical fruits, Golden Delicious Apple, raw fynbos honey with marzipan, and from entry a lovely line of fruit acidity and minerals through to the harmonious and long aftertaste. The wine will certainly reward you after a couple of years of cool cellaring.
The Delaire Graff Swartland Reserve Chenin Blanc 2019 is a wine for all times. Mid-morning refresher, sunset sipper, aperitif. Most Chenin producers will punt the wine as a good partner for Asian food. One of my favourite authors of Chinese food is Fuschia Dunlop. Her Gong Bau Chicken is a dream dish. Taken from her recently published book, the Food of Sichuan it is a perfect partner to this dish. Click HERE to read more about this well-known English Food Writer. I am a huge fan.
Fuschia Dunlop Gong Bao Chicken
2 boneless chicken breasts, with or without skin (300–350g in total)
3 garlic cloves
An equivalent amount of ginger
5 spring onions, white parts only
A handful of dried chilies (about 10)
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
75g roasted peanuts
For the marinade
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
11/2 tsp potato flour
For the sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 tsp potato flour
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chicken stock or water
Cut the chicken as evenly as possible into 1.5cm strips, then cut these into small cubes. Place in a small bowl. Add the marinade ingredients together with 1 tbsp water, mix well and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger and chop the spring onions into chunks as long as their diameter (to match the chicken cubes). Snip the chillies in half or into sections. Discard their seeds as far as possible. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Heat a seasoned wok over a high flame. Add the oil with the chillies and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until the chillies are darkening but not burnt (remove the wok from the heat if necessary to prevent overheating). Quickly add the chicken and stir-fry over a high flame, stirring constantly. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and continue to stir-fry until they are fragrant and the meat just cooked through (test one of the larger pieces to make sure).
Give the sauce a stir and add it to the wok, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, stir them in and serve.
Read more about Delaire Graff Wine Estate – CLICK HERE