Last week’s Wine Magazine/Guala Closures Chenin Blanc Challenge threw up two winners for Kleine Zalze, one for Best Wine of the Challenge and one for Best Value Chenin.
No surprise for me was that the Simonsig Chenin Blanc took the laurels for the best Unwooded Chenin.
Surprise for many was that the vintage was a 2007 – the bottle illustrating this piece – and at 3 years old it is bombing the myth that white wines of South Africa need to be drunk before the presses have been washed out.
The 2009 vintage of this wine is the one that is currently on sale from the cellar door at a very purse friendly price.
Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2009
The price: R32.00 a 750ml bottle at the Cellar Door.
First Impression: Sliced pears and honeysuckle
The Story: Simonsig Chenin Blanc was the first wine released by the founder of the Simonsig Wine Estate, pioneer in so many wine areas, Frans Malan in 1968. After 41 vintages South African Chenin is reaching new levels of popularity world wide. Chenin Blanc makes up 20% of the national vineyard and its versatility and fresh fruit appeal is being rediscovered by many.
The Taste: Lovely layers of crisp fresh fruit with an undertow of fynbos honey.
Michael Says: Get some of this in quickly and drink while it is young and fresh. Lay by a couple of bottles for future enjoyment before the world ends in 2012.
Did You Know? Frans Malan was the first winemaker in South Africa to produce a sparkling wine by the traditional Champagne method of a second fermentation in the bottle. Interestingly enough it was made with Chenin Blanc, though the Estate’s fizz, called Kaapse Vonkel, is today made from the classical Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
There is an excellent an well reviewed restaurant on the estate called Cuvee making Simonsig a destination winery in Stellenbosch.
The small print: Grapes are certified wine of origin Stellenbosch. The wine is 100% Chenin Blanc with a alcohol of 13.97% vol and residual sugar of 5.9 g/l which makes it only just off dry.
Michael is the co-author of The People’s Guide.