Blackwater Blanc is an imaginative and assured offering from Francois Haasbroek. It’s a blend of 80% Swartland Chenin Blanc, 15% Durbanville Semillon and 5% Ashton Bourboulenc and immediately takes its place among the most cutting-edge white wines in the country.
The production method is unusual. The Chenin, from a farm next to Paaredebosch, was left on the skins for 36 hours prior to pressing; the Semillon comes from Bloemendal and is in fact from the 2013 vintage, fermented and matured for 18 months in a 500-litre barrel prior to blending; and the Bourboulenc (described by Jancis Robinson as a “(p)otentially fine Languedoc variety at its best in La Clape where it can smell attractively of iodine”) is an open-secret part of this blend as it is not yet officially recognised. The Chenin and Bourboulenc were both matured for six months in old oak before blending, the final assemblage then spending a further six months in barrel.
On the nose, elusive notes of white peach, dried herbs, thatch and some yeasty complexity. The palate, meanwhile, is succulent, poised, long. There’s nothing overt about it – it’s neither particularly fruity nor grippy (despite the Chenin’s pre-fermentation skin contact) and comes across understated and refined, the whole most definitely greater than the sum of the parts. Wine Cellar price: R185 a bottle.