If ever there was a cuvée to demonstrate the huge role of fashion in wine, then it’s the Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2013 from Kleine Zalze. The 2008 vintage famously won the 2010 Chenin Blanc Challenge convened by the now defunct Wine magazine, the particular bottling in question possessing an abv of 15.18% and residual sugar of 7.3g/l. It was rich, full and super-expressive with flavours of tropical fruit, honey and spice and no doubt a touch of botrytis.
Fast forward to the 2013 vintage (R70) and the abv is down to 14% and it appears much drier. Pure fruit, bright acidity and a pithy finish. White peach, a hint of pineapple, not particularly leesy or honeyed. Succulent, in a word. From untrellised Stellenbosch vineyards 30 to 55 years in age, it spent seven months in barrel, 20% new.
The more premium Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012 from this cellar (R130) was of course rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2014 – I have to say I don’t think there’s that much between them and while they are both good I’m not sure they’re that good.