Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012
By Christian Eedes, 21 June 2013
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.