5 Stars for Kanu's KCB 2009

Friday, 8 March, 2013
Monique Burn
Classic Wine magazine held their Top 6 Chenin Blanc Awards on Thursday night at Marc's Restaurant in Paarl. To Kanu's great delight we received the award for the best Chenin Blanc, the only one in its class to receive 5 stars.
Here is what the judges had to say:

"The only 5 Star awarded and the oldest wine among the Top Six, proving beyond a doubt that good Chenin can age. KCB (Kanu Chenin Blanc) in the name differentiates it from an un-wooded version.

Gold-hued, with roasted nuts and baked apple, a showy wine with oak and some sweetness but the effect is sumptuous because of the perfect balance of all the elements. Care in the making, six hours of skin contact, natural fermentation, eight months in 100% new barrels (mixed wood) and a dash of Noble Late Harvest in the final blend.

All that at only R85. "
"KCB - yeah, that stands for "Killer Chenin Blanc" quips Johan Grimbeek before hastily backtracking, saying that he was just kidding and officially it is Kanu Chenin Blanc. But the nickname sticks, particularly in and around the cellar where Johan and his team have been specialising in the production of three different styles of Chenin for many years now, with this version being regarded as the cellar's flagship. Ot was Teddy Hall who established Kanu as a hotbed of top Chenin over a decade ago and Johan is happy to credit his own love of the variety to his time spent working alongside Teddy (Johan also makes a Chenin under his own label, Aeternitas, although demands from the day job have meant that the latest vintage is 2010). As Johan says, "Its easy to get into the rhythm of Chenin when you work with Teddy.

The KCB is Kanu's wooded version with 100% of the wine being fermented in new oak. The grapes come from two separate blocks from the same grower. Its dry-land vineyard with the vines being around 30 years old, and produces around eight tons per hectare.

Johan always uses a natural ferment, which he believes adds more complexity and intrigue to the final wine, and after fermentation starts, the wine spends nine months in a barrel in total - none of it undergoes malolactic fermentation during that time. The natural fermentation results in a fair amount of residual sugar - just under 12g/l for the 2009 - but this is balanced out by the high natural acidity of the wine, giving it a youthful freshness that appealed to the judges.

Johan believes he makes wines to keep and he is delighted that they have been able to hang onto this wine for three years to allow it to reach its full potential in bottle. He reckons on enjoying the KCB over the next 5 years, noting that they found a few pallets of the 2006 in the cellar recently that they sent on a special order to Canada where it is proving very popular and garnering lots of favourable review. Which is great news for Chenin Blanc lovers and winemakers, who often have a permanent battle with people thinking all the white wine should be drunk you. "For us at Kanu, Chenin Blanc is the backbone of what we do and the biggest feature of our collection," says Johan. The challenge is for people to understand what it is all about and to get them to enjoy the wine."