About the chenin
blanc style indicator
Chenin blanc is not only the
most widely cultivated local grape but local plantings represent more
than those established anywhere else in the world combined. Originally
from the Loire region of France, Chenin blanc wines are made from the
Northern Cape to Stellenbosch and from the Swartland to Robertson, in a
diversity of styles. As the world looks to more aromatic white wines,
Chenin has found its niche and today Chenin is ably represented as the
go-to white wine from South Africa.
Diversity in styles can be
seen with Chenin ranging from a wine which is fresh and easy drinking to
full and rich with oak barrel fermentation making complex, powerful
wines. It also ranges from still to sparkling, from dry to dessert-style
This diversity makes for food-friendly delicious
wines but does pose a challenge for the consumer standing in front of a
shelf of Chenin wines – how can you be sure you buy the wine in the
style you love?
To address this question, has led to the
development of the style indicator - the scale will be able to give
guidance as to what you can expect when tasting the wine; be that a
fresh style with green apple and lime flavours, or a more complex fruity
wine with stone- and tropical fruit flavours, or a rich wine with baked
pineapple and marmalade notes with creamy undertones.
Wines made in this fresh and fruity
style are mostly made in stainless steel tanks. This accentuates
the fruit flavours of Chenin blanc and its mouth-watering
acidity. The complexity of the wine can be increased by extended
lees contact while in a tank.
The wines in
this category will range in styles but the overarching profile
is tropical fruits like guava with a zesty, citrus finish and
can also include mineral notes.
This Chenin category
focuses on more complex, fruit-driven wines, largely considered
to be "unwooded" although made and matured in vessels to
preserve the wine's fruit purity and freshness, but the added
benefits are in the mouthfeel and texture of the wine.
Vessels used include concrete or plastic egg-shaped containers
or clay pots (often called amphoras) or larger oak casks called
foudres (large casks) or older small barrels. The larger the
vessel, and the older it is, the less the flavour influence of
the oak, which continues to play a part in the slow transmission
of oxygen into the wine.
Complexity can also be achieved by blending
barrel matured and wines fermented in stainless steel tanks.
The wines in this category range in styles, but the
overarching profile is delicious fruit interlaced with a spicy
This category of Chenin styles focuses on wines where the use of
oak in the flavour profile is more dominant but still balanced
with fresh acidity. The fruit profile is more towards baked or
dried fruit with a buttery, vanilla undertone associated with
maturation in oak.
Wines made in the more oxidative style
(wines that have been deliberately exposed to oxygen during the
winemaking process) are also included in this category.