Mr Chenin Blanc and three of his must-try South African wines


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Widely known as Mr Chenin Blanc, Ken Forrester is a charis­matic and tireless ambassador for South Africa’s unofficial national grape, and his drive and determination have increased international exposure for this underrated variety.

Forrester’s foray into the industry began in 1993, when he purchased the Scholtzenhof winery, which, having been estab­lish­ed in 1689, is one of the oldest Cape wineries. Producing wines under his own Ken Forrester label, he has built a reputation for outstanding chenin blanc and Southern Rhone-style red wines.

Chenin blanc’s spiritual home is the Loire Valley, in France. Today, however, 50 per cent of the chenin blanc produced in the world is from South Africa, where it accounts for 17 per cent of grape production. It’s versatile and produces everything from fresh and fruity wines and sparkling tipples to seriously rich and luscious dessert wines with several decades of ageing potential.

While most chenin blanc is light and made for immediate consumption, there is also a trend to produce serious wines with depth, complexity and the ability to age. According to the Ken Forrester Vineyards website, “The most intensely flavoured chenin blanc wines come from older vines that have been carefully managed for balanced yields.”

The winemaker describes the grape as “a very responsive variety – it will give birth in the bottle to what the winemaker has put into the vineyard and in the cellar”.

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Ken Forrester