Looking for interesting, reasonably priced Chenin Blanc, I popped in at Wine Concepts on Kloof in Cape Town where the Usana Barrel Fermented 2012 at R99.50 a bottle was recommended to me.
The wines of Usana are made under contract at Longridge where Jasper Raats, brother of Bruwer, is head winemaker and the grapes for this wine come from Elgin. It underwent spontaneous fermentation (to provide a “a softer and creamier mouthfeel” according to the back label) and was matured for eight months in French oak, 34% new.
As so often with Chenin, I was a bit nonplussed. Citrus and white peach, some struck match, vanilla and spice. Undertones of this, hints of that, nothing too intense or punchy. Was it supremely subtle or simply dull and unexciting I found myself asking?
I very much like the idea of cool-climate Chenin but I suspect that in this case there was a relative shortage of fruit concentration to start with, despite some evidently careful winemaking.