Six shades of Chenin Blanc

Tuesday, 25 June, 2013
Wineland Blog: with Edo & Elona. On behalf of KF
South African Chenin expert, Ken Forrester, took the concept of versatility to a whole new level with the recent release of a MCC featuring this variety.
The bubbly fits in perfectly with their Chenin line-up, which now ranges from a sparkling and various table wines, to a full-sweet noble late harvest.

Situated in the Helderberg Mountains of Stellenbosch, a mere 5 km from False Bay, Ken explains that it is the cool sunshine – similar to the Loire Valley in France – which guides their Chenins to greatness. A cool southern wind, guided by the Helderberg, blows through the vineyards in the afternoon, while the area receives ample hours of sunshine.

The brand new MCC – made entirely from Chenin Blanc, off course – is aptly named Sparklehorse; the word ‘horse’ referring to the fact that Chenin is commonly known as South Africa’s workhorse grape.

In front of the Ken Forrester Winestasting room is a 38 year old Chenin Blanc block; in the middle of this block is a wet point where the grapes don’t ripen evenly and these are the grapes now used for the MCC. They are harvested early, at around 17.5 to 18°B, and the wine spends around 14 months on the lees. The 2011 vintage is fresh, yet creamy, with a range of apply flavours, from Granny Smith to Golden Delicious.

This MCC was showcased alongside the entire range of Ken Forrester Chenins at a media function held in the old Manor House on the farm. The Petit Chenin Blanc 2012 and Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012 both show great fruit purity and acid balance, while the latter has the added complexity of soft and well-integrated oak. These are great value for money wines and sell for R40 and R75 respectively.

My all-time Ken Forrester-favourite is the FMC and the 2011 vintage has rich flavours of honey, quince and freshly cut apple, with a delicate sweetness, good acidity and balanced oak.

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