Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Chenin Blanc Association Showcase at the Cape Grace

South African Chenin Blanc continues to gain recognition at home and internationally. We heard it referred to twice at VinExpo as the most exciting grape from South Africa and another commentator referred to it as the grape that can represent us so well as we are making Chenin Blanc better than anyone else, in several different impressive different styles. The Chenin Blanc Association showcased their members wine this week at the Cape Grace and this gave the trade, media and sommeliers a chance to taste some of the best
The wines were divided into several categories. We set up our palates with two MCC bubblies, a Non Vintage from De Morgenzon and the other 2013 Sparklehorse Brut from Ken Forrester. Both are really great expressions of the grape, crisp elegant and wonderful to celebrate with friends
Fresh local oysters were served to go with the MCCs
Accompaniments for the oysters
Lynne and others who can't eat oysters, were served these canapés, a lovely crisp potato rosti topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon and avocado mousse
Raymond Noppé, Sales Manager at Delheim and Lizette Steyn-James, GM and winemaker at Welgemeend
Aletté van Vuuren of Ken Forrester Wines and Chenin blanc Association Manager Ina Smith
DeMorgenzon winemaker Hanneke Botha showing the Barrel fermented Chenins
Sebastian Beaumont, newly elected Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association opened proceedings
The function was well attended
Ina Smith with Willie du Plessis of the sponsor, Standard Bank
Guy McDonald, Anel Grobler, RJ Botha and Pieter van Niekerk
Then the Fresh and Fruity unwooded wines, mostly were entry level and most were current vintages. They are easy drinking, most are reasonably priced and they are at the forefront of the local market, this is what South Africans like to drink on a regular basis. We were impressed with the Mooiplaas and the Raats, both faultless, enjoyable and great with food. Some of the newer releases were a bit soft on acidity, others a little bitter but generally an easy drinking category.
More canapés circulated. Carpaccio of beef
Arancini or Suppli rice balls
There were two tables of Barrel Fermented wines from 2014 and 2015. On the first table The De Morgenzon and the Tierhoek really impressed us but the Beaumont Hope Marguerite knocked our socks off. So layered, so complex, so giving, this is drinking perfectly now and is Lynne's favourite wine of the Week. Many people at the tasting agreed. A good table with excellent wines
Mussels with salad
The second table of Barrel Fermented Chenins was a bit more of a challenge. The Charles Everson impressed, the Deetlefs will but it is in hiding at the moment; the Mulderbosch was interesting, we think it also needs time for its character to develop
Then to the wines with some age. A great category as Chenin does seem to get better and better with age. The Cederberg Five Generations 2014 is full of fruit acidity and almonds, always impressive; The Rudera Robusto 2008 is honeyed, smooth, very attractive. The 2011 Rijk's Reserve is still holding onto fresh acidity and character; The 2013 Uitkyk is as new! Still showing wood and fresh acidity, very much a food wine. The 2013 FMC is shy on the nose but has layers of sweet perfumed fruit on the palate, with some smoky wood and, as expected, is very good. The Spioenkop 2013 is drinking well, also with good layers for food pairing; the Bosman Optenhorst 2013 is honeyed with crisp acidity, almost NLH in character
Soup topped with popcorn
Then to the blends. Riebeek’s Short Street Chenin, Viognier and Grenache is good drinking with layers of fruit from old vines and a bargain at R50 a bottle. Marvellous Yellow does indeed have yellow fruit, nice acidity and perfume and is a merry mix of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat De Frontignan, Semillon for texture and Clairette Blanche. We liked it
Thea van der Merwe of Jordan with Marvel Ou Adam Mason
Marlvin Gwese, Cape Grace's Sommelier with Mooiplaas viticulturalist Tielman Roos
Lady winemakers Kristin Basson of Fleur du Cap and Hanneke Botha of DeMorgenzon
 And finally three delicious, excellent Dessert Wines. This is the class that the French judges at the Old Mutual Trophy said we can throw down the gauntlet with, especially to Europe: Radford Dale 2013 (Winery of Good Hope), vine dried, is sheer honey in a glass with RS of 201 g/l; Ken Forrester's 'T' 2011 NLH, picked in May of that year, is barrel fermented and full of peaches, apricots, apples and spice. Fresh acidity of 9.5 g/l and lovely sweetness with an RS of 154 g/l. And finally Tierhoek's NV Straw wine from old vines has all you would expect from such a well balanced and well behaved wine with the three necessities of a concentrated sweet wine: Acidity, sweetness and flavour T A 7.6 g/l and RS 272.8 g/l It was obviously popular, as both bottles were finished first
A display of small friandise and mini desserts, very tempting and great with the three dessert wines
Public Relations specialist Nicolette Waterford with Ina Smith
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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