2021 Boschendal Chenin Blanc “Sommelier Selection”, South Africa (Alcohol 14.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $19.95 (750ml bottle)
It never ceases to amaze me just how much great value Chenin Blanc from South Africa can exhibit these days. When I first started studying wine in the early 90s, Chenin from the Cape was very much looked down upon as cheap and often not-so-cheerful plonk. I mean, it did the job of getting you pissed, but the journey there was never a pleasant one.
Today, nothing could be further from the truth, with so many producers, both large and small, offering sub-$20 bottles of Chenin that often knock my proverbial socks off with their enticing aromatics, playful acidity, and satisfying textures.
The very worst of wine snobs often turn up their collective noses at South African Chenin, but they really have no idea what they are missing. They taste absolutely bugger all like their haughty cousins from the Loire, but honestly, who gives a damn about that when they bring so much bloody fun to the party?
I try not to use the S word too often when writing about wines, but there’s no denying the fact that the better Chenin Blancs at this price point express a certain degree of succulence. And indeed, it is this succulence that I find so appealing, especially when it’s somewhat reined in by the variety’s inherent acid profile.
This example from Boschendal has been keeping me hydrated for the past month or so, and it’s become a go-to bottle for when I’m looking for something to sip while reading periodicals on the back deck. I usually start with the bottle seriously chilled and then allow it to warm up a little in the sunshine; a bottle never lasts me too long, so it never has a chance to get heated.
On the nose, one will find fresh peaches, canned pears, blanched almonds, clove spice, and sweet alyssum florality. The fresh, succulent texture on the palate is like crunching into sun-warmed orchard fruits, with a curious twist of citrus fruit acidity. The finish is surprisingly (and pleasantly) persistent.
I’m going to say that I probably prefer to drink this by itself, although I can see it with poached shrimp and perhaps some sweeter West Coast oysters.
(Four out of a possible five apples)