Chenin blanc - SA's iconic white grape

Tuesday, 10 January, 2012
Carla van der Merwe
"Chenin blanc needs to get over its previously disadvantaged background mentality and start realising its potential", this was the comment made by Ken Forrester when we invited him to share his views on Chenin blanc for our January focus area.
The same sentiments were shared by Bruwer Raats who stated that, "Chenin blanc has evolved from its workhorse roots in South Africa after proper care and respect were shown to it, to now relish in thoroughbred status".

Ken and Bruwer are two of South Africa's top Chenin blanc producers and each of them has contributed to the new, more dignified and respected position that this cultivar now enjoys. But, as many South African wine enthusiasts know, this was not always the case.

For many years Chenin blanc struggled to find its place in the wine industry as it was never seen to be a prestigious cultivar and was (under the Afrikaans name Steen) used predominantly in blends and in the production of brandy. This "workhorse" with its diversity of flavours and uses fought its way to recognition.

As part of our new Spotlight campaign, decided to interview eight wine personnel from wine estates where Chenin blanc enjoys a place on the shelf. The eight farms that were chosen to take part in our campaign were; Jordan, Simonsig Estate, Raats Family Wines, Ken Forrester Wines, Villiera, Ridgeback Wines, Graham Beck Wines and Raka Wines.

Each of the participants brought along a Chenin blanc wine that they wished to promote and we took a series of videos for our Spotlight campaign that can be viewed on the site under our videos list.

The wines that will be featured this month on the site are:

Graham Beck's The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010
Jordan's Chenin Blanc Barrel Fermented 2011
Ken Forrester's Petit Chenin Blanc 2011
Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2011
Raka's Chenin Blanc 2010
Ridgeback's Chenin Blanc 2010
Simonsig's Chenin Blanc 2011
Villiera's Traditional Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2010

Be sure to keep an eye out for the videos to be posted this month and some interesting articles relating to Chenin blanc. The videos include a brief history of the wine, the wine's production history and one or two food pairing ideas.
Gary Jordan from Jordan
Gary Jordan from Jordan

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