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Flagstone Tributary Chenin Blanc 2015

October 2, 2015
by Christian
in What I Drank Last Night
with 3 Comments
Flows like a river.

Flows like a river.

During Cape Wine 2015, trade title ran an interview with Bruce Jack, founder of Flagstone and head winemaker in South Africa for international wine company Accolade Wines, on Chenin Blanc. What particularly caught the eye is that Flagstone have launched Tributary 2015, an interpretation of the grape set to sell in the UK at €30 a bottle.

From 45-year-old Perdeberg vineyards, 70% was fermented in tank and 30% in barrel. Jack reckons Chenin can offer the freshness of Sauvignon Blanc, the subtlety of Pinot Grigio, the body of Chardonnay and the age-worthiness of Riesling and Tributary 2015 is a remarkable and somewhat unusual take on the variety.

Closed under screwcap, the wine is initially shy on the nose and tight on the palate. It, however, opens up wonderfully to reveal aromas of citrus, pear and peach, some talcum powder, potpourri and dried herbs. The palate shows fabulous fruit concentration and driving acidity, a little bit of phenolic grip adding interest on the finish. It’s muscular and lithe and not nearly as oxidative as other top-end examples often are.

Winemag rating: 94/100.

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  1. joeOctober 2, 2015 at 6:11 pmReply

    Thanks, Christian. I will have to do some experimenting…

  2. ChristianOctober 2, 2015 at 3:53 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Joe, How long to age SA whites in general is a question which doesn’t get explored enough. Producers are always willing to show reds going back 10 years or even longer but this is almost never the case when it comes to whites.

    Speaking personally, I like some age on my whites for optimal enjoyment but two or three years usually suffices (primary fruit not completely dissipated but some complexifying developed character starting to appear) and I certainly can’t say I keep very many white wines beyond five years.

    In 2012, Vergelegen hosted a memorable vertical tasting of its white blend, the vintages featured ranging from 2001 to 2011. Wine of the day for me was the 2009, generally regarded as a “strong” vintage but also then at a stage where you got to enjoy both primary and developed characteristics on the wine. See here for more on that tasting:

    More generally, if you are hoping to age your white wine, then consider 1) the reputation of the vintage and 2) the analysis of the wine. After that, I always say how long to keep a wine, whether white or red, depends on your own personal preference for/tolerance of developed flavours. Interestingly, Jack reckons the Tributary 2015 will go for “20-30 years”…

  3. joeOctober 2, 2015 at 7:59 amReply

    What’s your take on aged Chenin? My only experience has been drinking a 6-year-old bottle of Simonsig Chenin, which I was very pleasantly surprised to find was still perfectly enjoyable (but I can’t say I could tell that it gained anything from the time in the bottle). Which, if any, of SA’s Chenin do you think is age-worthy? For how long? And how do you think the flavours may change?

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