L’Avenir in Stellenbosch is probably best known for its Pinotage but don’t overlook the Chenin Blanc. The 1997 won the Chenin Blanc Challenge as run by Wine magazine in 1998 and the Single Block 2013 is the stand-out wine among the current releases.
From a block planted in 1972, fermentation was started via inoculation in stainless steel tanks before being completed in a combination of 90% third-fill oak barrels and 10% new acacia, maturation lasting 10 months.
Aromatics are perhaps a bit more exotic than usual thanks to the use of tight-grained acacia – there’s a definite floral top note plus maybe some hay or dried grass to go with more conventional peach, pineapple and some yeasty character.
The palate, meanwhile, shows pure fruit and good poise before a long, savoury finish. Winemaker Dirk Coetzee worries about a slight bitterness but I think it actually contributes to the wine’s interest to the extent that it is an issue at all. Price: R180 a bottle