How South Africa gave chenin blanc a good name

Written by Fiona Beckett for TheGuardian.com

 

South Africa has long been the heartland of good chenin blanc.

 

As with many grape varieties, you don’t get an idea of what chenin blanc is capable of if you buy the cheapest examples on the market. South Africa is the place to explore if you want to find out the grape’s true potential. I recently spent a week there, and must have tasted more than 50 at least, ranging from the crispest, most chablis-like young whites to luxuriant wines you could compare to a meursault. (Burgundy, I think, is the better reference point than Loire chenins, which often have a touch of sweetness.)

You also find chenin in up-and-coming Breedekloof, which operates a Chenin Initiative to put the spotlight on how well they do with the variety. Producers in the group make a special bottling each year, of which one of my favourites was Elizma Visser’s Olifantsberg Lark Chenin; it’s not available in the UK, but you can get her 2017 chenin blanc (see below).

Four chenins to shout about

 

Olifantsberg Breedekloof Chenin Blanc 2017

£12.98  |  13%

Elegant, lean and almost chablis-like chenin from the up and coming Breedekloof. Perfect shellfish wine.

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