Archive for ‘South Africa’

March 2, 2018

Piekenierskloof “The Tea Leaf” Chenin Blanc Blend, 2016

We love our Chenin; French, South African, Australian, bring it on.  We wanted to love this.  Low alcohol, screw cap, high altitude vines.  Maybe our predilection for the varietal and relatively unrealistic expectations were too much for the W. O. Piekenierskloof, because for us it was a bomb.

 

Bruised fruit.  Dry, brittle dry, earthy, mushroom broth, lightly acidic, kumquat on the finish with a pasty, green, tarragon-ish herby note.  Not food friendly.  Dull as a sipper.

 

Perplexing, confusing, disappointing.  Despite the novelty of its remote high terrain and the rooibos growing in its midst.

 

Not balanced or terribly pleasant and unusual in a tiresome (as opposed to curious) fashion.  Much loved by the critics which is why we tried but it’s one strike and yer out with this.  Sorry W. O.

 

Price: $33 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar.

 

Market Liquidity: Like idling in a parking lot.  It’s middling.

December 4, 2017

Cape of Good Hope Riebeeksrivier Caroline, 2014

Spectacular in its assertive diversity.  Some acidity on the tongue, juicy fruitiness like biting into a white fleshed peach, a toasty note on the finish, an orchard of nuance.  The vanilla is muted.  An uninhibited and delicious blend.

 

Mainly Chenin Blanc, but Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne round out the mix.  I can see this working in the Okanagan as well as it does in South Africa; someone in Naramata should give it a shot.  Food versatility through the roof. Not your Tuesday night house white (given the price point), but what a shame. Refreshing delectability.

 

Price: A rather steep $39 at New District.

 

Market Liquidity: Gobs of gorgeousness.

November 8, 2017

Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Chardonnay, 2014

A low score middling wine with the Decanter bunch: I took exception and found it climbed above the measly 87 points they deigned to anoint it with, and still I laud Decanter.

 

It has lovely citrus notes, a spicy nuance, bits of tropical notes like flambeed pineapple–and none of the cloying oak of heavy handed Chards.  There is a sweet spot, somewhere between the fridge and room temperature, where it comes alive and really charms.

 

Price: A not too thrifty $29 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

 

Market Liquidity: You won’t impress, but you will enjoy.

October 17, 2017

Swartland Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, 2015

The acidity hits you first.  Then a tsunami of tropical notes, pineapple, guava, passion fruit.  The finish is a creamsicle.  It’s astringent and rich together.  My God, I could drink a decent Chenin every day, but am clearly in the minority (if restaurant wine lists are anything to go by—CB is rarely on offer, certainly not in the “by the glass” section; you might see a Vouvray in a hoity-toity place but these dry workhorse whites, primarily South African, damn they are versatile and exciting).  With every glass we liked it more.  It was like a seduction.

 

Price: $31 at Marquis, a lot for a SA Chenin, but worth a half case if you can stomach the financial pain.

 

Market Liquidity: It grows and grows on you.  I mean hopefully not like Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.  But still.

August 21, 2017

Raats Original Chenin Blanc, 2014

Depending on whom you rely on for points accountability, this is anywhere between an 88 and 92 pointer, with the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator at opposite ends of the spectrum and Tanzer in between.  Which underscores more about how people think of Chenin Blanc than perhaps the subjective nature of wine scores.

 

It is indeed good, a refreshing and zesty lightly acidic Chenin with a dry forest floor note and some gobs of summer stone fruit.  We got the lime but not the pineapple.  It’s a patio sipper par excellence but a little weak at keeping up with rich foods (and I’m including creamy cheeses).  At the price point we are much more likely to spend less on the Mulderbosch and enjoy it more or spend more on the D’Orrance and wish we’d won the lottery.  It would be hard to weigh in on this as enthusiastically as some pros have.

 

Price: $21.85 in Saskatchewan but, wait for it, $33.50 before taxes at private wine stores in Vancouver.  Seriously.  When the mayor proclaims that Vancouver is on schedule to be the greenest city on the planet all I can think of is the greenback, not the solar panels, bike lanes, and lack of access to natural gas.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s a 92 pointer at $22 and an 88 pointer at $34.

April 13, 2017

Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc, 2015

Natalie Maclean loved this wine at $19.  Americans love this wine at a few dollars less.  And while I loved it too, I had to shell out much more.  Welcome to beautiful BC.

 

There is a marriage of apple (juice and cider and skin) with tropical notes, the softness of papaya, and a striking balance between those oddities that makes it zesty and like a palate cleanser mid-meal.  Over the top spectacular with a Thai meal.  Screw top to boot.

 

Price: $22 at Liberty before the overages.

 

Market Liquidity:  The Cold Crisp Taste of Chenin Blanc, to bastardize an old tagline.

March 15, 2017

Aquifer Semillon, 2015

Like being stranded in the desert and finding an oasis.  Or stumbling upon a mirage.  It depends on your view.

 

Strange and unusual and overwhelmingly addictive but in the same breath a little cloying and annoying.

 

Abrasive minerality, aggressive herbaceous-ness, pronounced acidity.  Steely Chardonnay-esque plonk on the palate.  A long, sour, grassy finish.

 

All of it enticing, an evocation of terroir, so, so, so not Bordeaux Blanc, but weirdly appealing in a deer in the headlights sort of way.  A cross of medicinal with luxe.

 

Price $30 at Everything Wine (which is too expensive for the purely adventurous I think but something I will buy again, probably many times over).

 

Market Liquidity: A diamond in the scrubby rough of tasteless, bland and nondescript Semillon which sinks the BC marketplace.

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March 6, 2017

King Shaka-Zulu Chenin Blanc, 2015

Pretty good but not pretty great.

 

Notes of clementine, an unusual and pronounced vanilla, a tangy acidity, refreshing floral herb slash butterfly garden, and a monumental minerality that persists on the palate.  I wouldn’t have guessed this as a Chenin blind but enjoyed it nonetheless.  Was superb with a cheese souffle.  As for Shaka-Zulu, check him out.

At a price point about 30 per cent cheaper, this would be a steal, a deal, a must buy.  Regardless of the pointster’s praise, at $30, it’s not exceptional value.  This bottle reminds me of the gorgeous Springfield Life from Stone which we swooned over in Cape Town at dollars a bottle then sourced it back home in BC at $33 in a private store where, as we emptied out wallet, we sort of lost our appetite and enthusiasm.

 

Price: $29.95 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Close but no cigar.

February 11, 2017

D’Orrance Chenin Blanc KAMA, 2012

dorrance-chenin-blanc-kama-2012

 

Poetry.

 

If you splurge once in a while on a wine simply because of critical praise, and then are disappointed, I hear your pain. Amen brother. We need to forge a twelve step critical disappointment program. But sometimes you dig deep into the wine budget and it pays off big time. Case in point this elegant, eloquent, Chenin that was like an encased jewel box, that just needed dusting off to show all it’s colour and dimension.

 

Of course Chenin is not to everyone’s taste; even in France, Loire whites are not as ubiquitous in the corner wine store as you’d expect. In South Africa, where they blossom, BC rarely gets an opp to experiment (it’s Bellingham and then things hit a chasm). But we sourced this bottle at Everything Wine and were suitably impressed. Five year old luxe white for around $40; sounds expensive but really that’s a bargoon considering the lay away.

 

Ludicrously delicious. A golden shimmer in the glass, toffee, apple, honey and honeydew hits the palate along with an oily nuttiness and some lighter minerality. Acidity that is pure pleasure. It is exquisite in its complexity and hugely intriguing. I have some Neem honey from the Himalayas and that sweet, blossom, funkiness is also in this wine. The oak is almost transparent (thankfully); in fact the oak is umami.

 

Price: Expensive in BC; a very unfortunate $43 at Everything Wine (but keep in mind this is the 2012, not the 2014). The 2014 is available in Saskatchewan for $23. That is plainly extraordinary value.

 

Market Liquidity: Controlled delirium if such a thing is possible.

January 22, 2017

Bellingham “Bernhard Series” Chenin Blanc, 2015

bellingham-bernhard-series-chenin-blanc-2015

I was thumbing through a Decanter with about 150 Chenin recommendations and all I could easily source was this mid-priced bottle.  If they scored it 89 all I can say is wow, are BC wine drinkers ever missing out on some great CB, because we downed this bottle in record time.  Fresh, vibrant, zesty and social.

 

Fresh “unscrewed” cold it could be mistaken for an unoaked Chardonnay.  But there are delicious notes which run a wide gamut: caramel, coconut, maple syrup, butterscotch, and just a tinge of pine resin.  A most delectable Chenin and ludicrously food friendly (we drank it with a NY Times poached sole; scrumptious).

 

Price: $27 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

 

Market Liquidity: Cin cin to 89 pointers.