2022 Bruce Jack Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa (Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO $14.95 (750ml bottle)

I’ll start off by saying that this has to be one of the best value wines currently available in Ontario right now, and the fact that you’ll find it in what I think may be the greater majority of LCBO stores (bar some of the more provincial ones) is certainly an added bonus. It’s going to become a standby for me, that’s for sure.

As much as I adore classic, more traditionally made wines (occasionally veering a little to the more rustic), over the last decade or so I have become increasingly drawn to fresh, clean, and unashamedly modern wines; this bottling certainly falls into that latter category, and is a lovely, no to mention seriously accessible, example of such.

I’d go as far as saying it may be the most varietally correct South African entry-level Chenin I have tasted in some time, and makes for a great introduction to anyone relatively unfamiliar with Cape expressions of this most noble of grapes. I really wish I had been able to show a bottle of this back in the years when being a wine educator was a big part of my working life. While it is far removed, both literally and figuratively, from Loire examples, this Bruce Jack Chenin Blanc shows the potential for performing impressively in the sunnier/warmer climes of South Africa.

The nose is certainly a most pleasurable one, offering up bushels of seriously ripe pear, peach, and apricot with a hint of warming clove and a lemon/lime twist. The key to the wine’s surprising complexity is most probably the portion of old vine fruit which sees fermentation in used French oak barrels, bringing some pleasant texture and a touch of nutty spiciness. Chenin’s signature acid profile is here, but very much balanced out by the exuberant ripe Chenin fruit character leading on to a crisp, firm, moderate finish.

This drinks incredibly well all by itself, and goes down rather quickly, but I’d be tempted to try it alongside spicy grilled shrimp or Chinese roasted pork dishes.

I was originally going to score this a decent 3 and a half apples, but I have decided to pump it up to four due to its simply excellent value. Superb juice!

(Four out of a possible five apples)