MARQUEE’S WINE MAKER’S CORNER: SOUTH AFRICA’S ENCHANTING CHENIN BLANC BY SIMON BACK OF BACKSBERG ESTATE CELLARS
The Chenin Blanc grape variety originates from the Loire Valley in France. It was introduced to South African soil in the 17th century. Since then it has become the most widely-planted varietal in South Africa; there are approximately twice as many Chenin Blanc vines planted in South Africa, as there are in France.
Formerly referred to as Steen, Chenin Blanc makes up just over 20% of South Africa’s vineyard plantings. This comes as no wonder, since Chenin Blanc is so wonderfully versatile. It can be made into dry wines, sparkling wines or sweet wines, depending on the time of harvest, and it is also a great blending component.
The Chenin variety is sensitive to the type of soil and climate conditions in which it is grown, and this means that the spectrum of flavours ranges from intensely tropical, such as litchi, melon, pear, honey and vanilla, all the way to crisp, grassy notes of minerals, apple and lime. The older the vines become, the more intense the fruit flavours evolve. Chenin Blanc vines thrive equally well in a trellised vineyard as also being grown as a bush vine.
Chenin Blanc is a great quaffing wine, but pairs equally well with food, such as salads, white meats, sushi and spicy dishes, while sweeter Chenins can be enjoyed with fruits and desserts. Oaked Chenin Blanc also benefits from a few years of bottle-aging as the colour will turn golden and a nutty flavour will emerge, adding complexity.
Backsberg has been producing Chenin Blanc since the 1970s. Our Chenin Blanc has a refreshingly tropical nose and a fresh palate. Ripe pear, zesty apple and the smoothness of cashew, glide over your palate. Balanced acidity leaves a wonderful, lingering finish. Cheers!
For more information on the Backsberg Chenin Blanc visit www.backsberg.co.za and www.marquee.com
By Simon Back
Marketing Manager, Backsberg Estate Cellars