Yesterday the Chenin Blanc Winter Showcase hosted by the Chenin Blanc Association – wines made in a “richer, fuller, riper style” which will make good drinking in the cold months ahead available for tasting.
Even so, I would contend there’s been a significant stylistic shift at the top-end of the category in the last decade or so – super-ripe wines showing yellow peach, apricot, honey and intense oak-derived spice are generally out and we are seeing wines showing more citrus and white peach with freshness and poise.
All good you might think but Chenin Blanc can tend to be quite neutral if winemakers hold off on the ripeness, the malolactic fermentation and the batonage too much. One wine yesterday that I absolutely loved on account of how expressive it was, was the Stellenrust “48” Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2012.
From a 48-year-old Bottelary vineyard (hence the name), the wine was made using spontaneous fermentation which took some six months to complete and was matured in barrel for nine months, 90% French and 10% Hungarian. Citrus, peach and classic wet wool on the nose. Oak quite prominent but somehow adding to the overall experience. Big and bold with layers of flavour and bright acidity. I scored it 92/100 on the day.
Significantly, however, it did not find favour with various winemakers with whom I discussed it, Mulderbosch’s Adam Mason describing it as a “Dolly Parton kind of wine”. If we’re going to compare wines to female showbiz personalities, then I would counter that this wine is far more like Mad Men star Christina Hendricks and what’s wrong with a 32F bra size anyway?