Kleine Zalze cellarmaster Johan Joubert has justly gained acclaim for his versions of Chenin Blanc under both the entry-level Cellar Selection and mid-range Vineyard Selection labels. Now comes the maiden release of a Chenin Blanc under the flagship Family Reserve label (R130 a bottle).
From the 2012 vintage, grapes are from untrellised vineyards in three different wards of Stellenbosch. In the cellar, fermentation was begun in tank and finished in 400-litre barrels, 20% new, 40% second- and 40% third-fill, maturation lasting for 12 months.
Whatever else you might say about Joubert’s wines, “restrained” is not a word you would typically use but this Chenin is indeed rather subtle and understated. Peach and a hint of pineapple, while the oak lends spice and an appealing sort of custard-like quality. There’s bright, well-coated acidity and no over-ripe or botrytis character in evidence (abv is a relatively low 13.5%).
In fact, it’s so reined-in that some might accuse it of lacking the wow-factor of a flagship. However, there’s no doubting it’s drinkability (too often the really powerful examples of Chenin flatter to deceive) and I think Joubert should be applauded for going in pursuit of elegance.