Chenin Blanc is, I think, rightly thought of as one of our National grapes. The most planted wine grape in the country with vineyards of six times more hectares than its French home, the Loire Valley. In this year’s Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge, the Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2018 was nominated with the coveted Top 10 award for 2019. Chosen from close to 150 entries from 87 producers and tasted blind by an expert panel of judges.
The grapes for the Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2018 were harvested from 2 vineyards belonging to 2 of its 9 suppliers. One vineyard was on the “open easterly side of the valley where the cool sea breeze from Table Bay meets the dry warmer in-land air. The block is north-east facing, resulting in the vines being exposed to sunlight from early in the morning which ensures even ripening at the start of the season. The soils are sandy loam, allowing for good draining of excess surface water with good water retention lower down. The other block is on the open westerly side of the valley that faces west, exposing the vines to the sun until it sets into the ocean. The soils are fairly deep and of the Yellow Clovelly and red Hutton forms, have a fair amount of clay content for good water retention.”
Once in the cellar, the grapes were destemmed and crushed and the juice settled with stirring for three days. The juice was then divided onto three portions for some interesting winemaking procedures, on of which was that 66% of the juice was fermented in a mix of new and previous fill French oak barrels. It was then matured for a further 9 months. A 4% portion fermented in open fermenters, on the skins, with one light punch down per day and the free-run wine matured for nine months in American oak barrels. After all this, the finest components were tasted and blended and prepared for bottling.
The Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2018 features the Company’s Garden which dates back to a time when fresh produce and supplies were first provided to ships rounding the Cape. Although originally a vegetable garden, it was not long before the first Chenin Blanc vineyards were planted, and today, the Gardens are recognised for their contribution to the Cape’s horticultural heritage. The Chenin Blanc is a tribute to these Gardens and the origins of Chenin Blanc in the Cape of Good Hope.
From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with a screw cap. Elegantly labelled with a design by Cape Town Theo Vorster, who created unique pieces of art using hand coloured Linocuts for each of the Collectors Reserve Wines. In the glass, the wine is a pale wheaten colour with some lime green flashes. The aromas and flavours are, as expected, of Granny Smith Apples, desiccated mango and pineapple, fynbos honey, poached guavas, sweet tropical limes and the oak with its concomitant spice and vanilla. Full palated from entry to tail with a fine and welcome thread of acidity running through. A delicious glass for a wine with which the maker, Kobus Gerber and his team so obviously took so much trouble. The wine is eminently accessible now, though a couple of years of cool cellaring with reward you later.
The Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2018 is a fine wine which should not be over chilled for true enjoyment. This is no quaffer. A serious sipper before a meal or at sundown. I always think that a Chenin like this should be consumed with a large butter roasted organic chicken with some rustly roast potatoes and a jug [large] of real gravy made from the pan juices and some excellent chicken stock. This is traditional Sunday roast stuff, though a well prepared dish in the middle of the week, like a tranche of SASSI friendly Hake pan fried in butter with squeeze of lemon and some chopped parsley will be a great partner. Alida Ryder’s Indian Spiced Chicken makes a welcome change, and is perfect with the Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2018. Click HERE for her recipe and to have a browse of her fabulous website.
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