I think that we can call Chenin Blanc a South African Grape – formerly also known as Steen, with that name still used by some. Originating in the 9th Century in the Loire Valley in France, where it is known as Pineau de la Loire where the plantings are in the region of 9,000 plus hectares. South African plantings are 17,706 hectares. Chenin Blanc and Colombard are the most planted wine grapes in South Africa, above any reds of which Cabernet Sauvignon is third in line. It is possible that Jan van Riebeek had Chenin Blanc grapes brought to the Cape in the 1650s. Chenin Blanc, in my opinion, has been unjustly called The Workhorse Grape. What it is, is a grape that is used for anything from the driest and most delicate of MCC wines, running right through to the sweetest of Noble Late Harvests, and makes superb Sherry style wines, and sweet fortifieds.
The Durbanville Wine Appellation is considered one of the Cape’s coolest wine regions, with maritime on shore breezes and cool mists from the nearby Atlantic Ocean cooling the vineyards in summer, ameliorating the afternoon heat in the vineyards. This allows for slower ripening and fuller flavours in the final wine. Vineyard management is geared towards concentration of Chenin Blancs wonderful flavours.
An interesting note from the Winery is “Cellar master Martin Moore uses highly advanced cellar technology to ensure optimal extraction of colour and flavour. Sustainable practices include maintaining the disciplines imposed by International Environmental Standard ISO 140001 such as in the treatment of waste water back to irrigation quality. In all its vineyards the growing practices prescribed by IPW (Integrated Production of Wine) are followed. These are designed to sustain natural resources. In addition, the members protect on their farms 320 ha of endangered Renosterveld as part of the Biodiversity Wine Initiative (BWI).”
The grapes for the Durbanville Hills Chenin Blanc 2018 came from the Eastern and Western slope vineyards of the Durbanville Hills growers, a unique band of 9 farms. Harvested when the grapes are ideally ripe, with tasting of the grapes in the vineyard being part of the test, the grapes are taken to the cellar for gentle destemming and crushing, with minimal skin contact. The juice was settled for 24 hours before being taken to the fermentation. Once fermented dry., the wine is removed from the fermentation lees and allowed three months to mature on its fresh lees which builds up a more full and weighty wine. The wine is then prepared for bottling.
From a Burgundy shaped vine leaf coloured bottle, closed with a screw cap. The label is the classical Durbanville Hills lozenge shape. In the glass, the wine is a pale straw colour, with lime green flashes. The aromas, which lead into the palate, are of windfall oranges, fresh ripe white fleshed peaches, and soft sun dried apricots. There is a golden thread of fruit acidity running through from entry into the long and satisfying aftertaste. If cool cellared for a couple of years, this wine will reward. Great glass.
The Durbanville Hills Chenin Blanc 2018 is a wine for any time. Mid morning refresher, sundown sipper, great with food. With warmer days upon us, Dianne Bibby’s Wild Rice Chicken Salad with Avocado is a great match. Click HERE for Dianne’s Recipe and to view her website.
Dianne Bibby, Johannesburg Cook, food writer, photographer, recipe developer – follow here
Read more about Durbanville Hills Winery – CLICK HERE