Chenin Blanc - the shooting star of South Africa

South Africa's Chenin Blanc wines are gaining more and more attention worldwide. With this growing popularity, we were also able to obtain the interest of "Der Feinschmecker", Germany's most renowned gourmet magazine (51.000 Copies, monthly published). We were granted a place in the "Wine Round" for the June 2020 issue if we can organise a large-scale tasting. The excitement was great! The wine editors wanted to explore the entire range and stylistic diversity and present their readers with the best from the Cape regions.

Already since 2019, we started planning the blind tasting, with 12 jurors, a photo session and following discussion. The location and the host selected with Maximilian Wilm, multiple award-winning Sommelier and WoSA Sommelier Germany (2018), we had the perfect stage for the performance of our Chenin Blancs with his restaurant, Kinfelts Kitchen. The release planned for June 2020 - the Chenin Blanc month - including a bottle party. There we wanted to present the remaining Chenin Blanc wines to the sommeliers from Hamburg. What a perfect introduction to the South African Wine Show 2020 in September. 

A perfect plan, a well thought out strategy and everybody was happy. Even the winemakers! The response was overwhelming: With about 100 wines, we, unfortunately, had to stop the acceptance. But then there was a much more powerful stop: Corona.

For a long time, it was completely unclear what was possible at all. After months of struggling for clarity, all wine events cancelled. The number of visitors who were allowed to meet reduced. The challenge for our tasting was that the number of households permitted in one room was limited to a maximum of two. The dream was: to bring 12 judges together, burst! A maximum of two households, which means a maximum of 2 persons. It was left in the dark for many months if we would be able to carry out the tasting at all or whether we would have to postpone it until next year. But then the wines might not be available anymore, which was of the highest priority for the publisher in order not to disappoint the readers. The good news: the tasting took place. 

On Monday 13th July about 80 Chenin Blanc wines were tasted blind, mainly the more complex styles as the publication could be pushed in for November. The tasters were: Maximilian Wilm (Kinfelts Kitchen & Wine Restaurant), Ina Finn (Sommelier, Villa Verde) und Patrick Bauer (Weinredakteur Der Feinschmecker).

The feedback on the wines was mainly positive. Even though European influenced palates have to get used to the richness of South African wines, especially the vintage 2018, the tasters were impressed by the structure, delicacy and partly high mineral notes. The conclusion is that for the German market or palate: elegance, fruit, purity and varietal typicity but above all "sense of place" is the most important thing. "One always looks for the originality, the character of the variety and the fruit. As well as the identity of "South Africa" in the glass. Less technology, more the touch of nature, but less ripeness and more freshness - Chenin Blanc should convince especially in the upper segments with a delicate aroma, firmness, structure, layers and yet freshness on the palate. And many South African winegrowers are well on the way to achieving this," sums up Maximilian Wilm, who is just as excited about the overall result as we are. 

The gourmet: Chenin Blanc tasting - November 2020


Petra Mayer, July 2020