How wine styles change. The Rudera Robusto Chenin Blanc 2002 which won the 2005 Wine magazine Chenin Blanc Challenge famously had a residual sugar of 15.7g/l. It picked up 4½ Stars then, a rating it retained when a retrospective of previous winners was undertaken for the February 2010 issue.
If Sauvignon Blanc becomes more like itself with age, Chenin gains complexity and nuance, one of the reasons the former isn’t a noble variety and the latter is. Local Chenin can easily reward five years of cellaring from vintage; in some cases up to 10 years.
I was consequently excited to open the 2003 vintage of Robusto, a wine that rated 4 Stars in the February 2005 issue of Wine magazine and 4½ Stars in Platter’s 2006. According to the guide, this wine had an even higher RS than the 2002 of 18g/l and possessed an “easy 5-year ageing potential”.
The wine was at the very peak of maturity, if not slightly over it. Amber in colour, tertiary, almost savoury on the nose. The palate, though developed, still had interest with flavours of dried apricot, honey and some nuttiness. The sweetness was palpable but somehow quite comforting. A fresh acidity kicked in at the end to entice another sip. All in all, a very particular style.
Robusto as made by Hall was always a wine of contemplation more than anything else. He has moved on from Rudera and the wines are now made by Jasper Raats (after ex-Spier winemaker Eleonor Visser was briefly in charge) and it is interesting to note that while the wines are still very rich and concentrated in style, they are now much drier, the 2008 having an RS of 3g/l and the 2009 4.7g/l.
Note: the results of the 2011 Wine magazine Chenin Blanc Challenge will be announced on Thursday 20 January.