The Chenin Blanc aroma wheel
The Chenin Blanc aroma wheel was developed in 2005 and updated using data from the actual tasting and sensory evaluation of some 3,000 wines produced in South Africa from 2007 to 2016, in research conducted by the Stellenbosch University Institute for Wine Biotechnology Department of Viticulture and Oenology. The wheel is a practical and useful information graphic that is used by educators and sommeliers alike to provide guidance in the assessment of Chenin aromas, and to educate and showcase South African Chenin locally and abroad.
An aroma wheel creates a better springboard for recognition and understanding and thus plays a part in the wider knowledge transfer of Chenin Blanc's sensory attributes. This is a valuable asset for education and communication, making it possible to talk about wine attributes.
The Chenin Blanc aroma wheel was also reimagined in 2022 with Shona, isiZulu, and isiXhosa speakers, who translated its terminology into their native language using indigenous taste references.
"Chenin represents versatility and adaptability. That parallels what I see within myself. I hope Chenin continues to break even more boundaries.
I was immediately excited when I heard about the project because it meant I could converse with more people about wine. It meant when I got home and I gave my neighbour the aroma wheel we could understand each other. It’s the removal of the mystery of wine tasting for a greater audience in South Africa. We all come from different backgrounds and our aroma memory banks are made up of those origins.
We have adopted Chenin as our own, it is part of the South African wine industry’s DNA. Its site can be clearly expressed and that is exciting.”
Nongcebo "Noni" Langa, winemaker at Delheim Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, and part of a set of tasters on the isiZulu panel tasked with describing a range of Chenins using indigenous taste references.