A once-off social tasting with friends at the end of last year seems to be turning into a regular wine club, working title “The Bald and the Beautiful”. I’ve belonged to three tasting groups previously, all now defunct on the basis that while everybody enjoys the tastings, nobody is prepared to take on the inevitable administration. The benefit, however, is that themes from one meeting to the next can be entirely whimsical and you’re unlikely to be subjected to public ridicule once the results come out.
Most recently Chenin Blanc and Chenin Blanc blends. We tasted blind and here’s how I scored the ten wines in the line-up:
Le Soula 2006
(30% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Grenache Blanc, 25% combination of Marsanne and Roussanne, 10% Macabeu, 10% Malvoisie)
Rijk’s Chenin Blanc with a Touch of Oak 2009
Spice Route Chenin Blanc 1998
Domaine du Closel – Château des Vaults Les Caillardières 2008 (Demi-sec, Savennières)
Muratie Laurens Campher 2010
(Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdehlo and Chardonnay)
The Observatory 2006
(80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay)
Vondeling Babiana 2008
(Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc)
Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2009
Rall White 2009
(50% Chenin Blanc, rest Chardonnay, Verdelho and Viognier)
Schalk Burger & Sons Myra 2007
(50% Viognier, 40% Chenin Blanc, 10% Viognier)
In joint first place, Le Soula 2006, a Vin des Pay des Côtes Catalanes from biodynamic producer Domaine Gauby. We subsequently learnt that this was a bit of a ringer in that the 2006 did not contain any Chenin Blanc, even though previous vintages have done. The wine appeared oxidative on the nose while the palate showed flavours of green and yellow apple as well as spice. Complex and yet approachable, a favourite with most of the tasters present.
My other top wine was the Rijk’s Chenin Blanc with a Touch of Oak 2009, winner of the trophy for best in class at the 2010 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. This proved more controversial among those assembled, the debate being whether or not it was sufficiently intricate to warrant its trophy status. I found it subtle and nuanced with it showing good fruit expression, well judged oak (the name says it all) and tangy acidity.