File Under: South African Stunners

South African Chenin Blanc has certainly gained a reputation for value with numerous under $10 versions which offer refreshingly drinkable – yet simple takes on a grape that can ultimately yield many faces and styles. Man Vintners, Indaba, Robertson and even Ken Forrester all produce easy drinking, round, pleasurable wines that receive respectable scores and have generous placement on store shelves. Many of us would be hard pressed to tell these wines apart though in a blind tasting environment and that’s why we’re so excited to stock a new South African Chenin Blanc that shows another side of the grape – the oak aged side.

Ken Forrester is probably best known to wine geeks for his ultra premium FMC Chenin Blanc which fetches around $60 a bottle. The wine is luxurious, weighty, complex and in a class of its own. The winery also produces several inexpensive wines including the Petit Chenin Blanc label – which is at the value end of the spectrum resembling more fresh and fruity then sumptuous and toasty. We’ve always had to choose between these styles – that is until now.

Ken Forrester’s Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010 is a serious example of how good South African Chenin Blanc can be even in the hard to find $15-20 range where we go from bulk produced to a more quality driven approach. This wine has powerful aromatics of apricot, orange zest, apple, honey, hazelnut, spice and subtle oak. It balances richness and liveliness with a gracefulness and sophistication that $16 wines generally don’t achieve.

All three of us were unanimous in our appreciation for this wine when the rep brought it in. Apparently all three major US wine publications agree with scores of 92, 90 and 90 points. We’re not sure how much of this we can get so if you see it here – you may want to take advantage of the last few cases of this vintage.

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