What to expect from Mulderbosch now that it is owned by California-based investment company Terroir Capital? For one thing, Chenin Blanc is set to feature prominently – “We want to open up the American dinner table to the variety,” says Charles Banks, part of Terroir’s senior management and formerly co-owner of cult US winery Screaming Eagle.
Production of Chenin Blanc is being ramped up to some 30 000 cases and the wine which sells for R59 a bottle here will be positioned at $16 a bottle in the US. Mulderbosch currently has a good foothold in the US, around 35% of its annual 150 000 case production currently ending up there and the intention is to build on this.
The Steen op Hout Chenin Blanc 2011 includes 3% Viognier. Grapes are sourced from various Stellenbosch and Swartland sites, the average age of the vines being 32 years old. 80% of the wine was tank fermented while the remaining 20% underwent natural fermentation in barrel in a combination of new French and Hungarian oak barrels, before being matured for five months.
The wine shows white fruit on the nose and palate. It’s medium bodied, clean and fresh – sweet upfront before an admirably dry finish (score: 15.5/20). Perhaps not the most exciting expression of Chenin to have ever come out of South Africa but equally unlikely to cause real offence to anybody and therefore I think must be viewed as very canny effort at making significant inroads into the American market.