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Tasting notes from South Africa

text and photographs © 2010 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on South Africa 2010.


Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2009
Comes from two areas of sandstone and granite, which bring different properties to the wine. A touch of honey over piercing green apple fruit, fine fruitiness and freshness. 88/100. UK Agent is Alliance Wines. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Klein Zalze Bush Vines Chenin Blanc 2009
Very fragrant and talcumy Chenin, with a lift and has plenty of dash and verve. A little honey comes through, and it becomes very tangy and lots of lemon and orange on the finish. 87/100. Majestic, See all stockists on wine-searcher

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2009
All barrel fermented in 400 litre barrels, 20% new oak, all wild yeasts, from 35 year-old vines. There's a definite waxiness to this, a bit of nuttiness and some lime and pear aromas. The wine has beautiful texture, with such a taut core and great mineral and grippy core. 89/100. UK Agent is Great Western Wines and L'Art du Vin. See all stockists on wine-searcher

Raats Family Chenin Blanc 2008
Big, rich, vegetal nose from 40-year old vineyards. 20% barrel and lees contact. A touch of fennel on the nose too. The palate has a cashew softness with a real minerality that comes through. There's a terrific zestiness and a real mandarin orange brightness too. Delicious. 91/100.

Klein Zalze Chenin Blanc Vineyard Selection 2009
From bush vines, spends four months in older barrels. 10% Botrytis on the Chenin. Lovely note of honey here, with a gentle nuttiness, a slightly more oxidised style. The palate has texture and weight and a lovely fat, juicy, peachy mid-palate before very good acidity. 89/100.

Sterhuis Chenin Blanc 2006
Very low yield, natural ferment in older barrels with six to seven months on the lees. Lovely nectarine fruit, with real brightness and sweetness, with a touch of orange and creaminess too. The orange comes through on the palate, with a lovely citrusy crispness and clarity, and the creamy toast of the oak just adding a nuttiness amongst that orangy clarity. 91/100. See all stockists on wine-searcher

Sterhuis Astra White 2007
Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, one third each. Whole bunch pressed oxidative winemaking, in French oak barrels for 18 months. Big, deep, gloriously figgy nose, with masses of green apple punch coming through, but complex layers of tropical fruit, nuttiness and lovely acidity. Shimmers through into a long finish, the oak noticeable, but not dominant. Fresh and long. 93/100. Naked Wines and see all stockists on wine-searcher

Ken Forrester FMC 2008
Beautifully ripe, rich, quince-like and fig with a fabulously sweet, ripe nose. Low yielding fruit from a bush vine vineyard that is over flown to draw infrared maps showing leaf cover hot and cold spots, and find the specific vines that have identical leaf cover, which allows them to pick specific vines with identical canopy values and therefore identical fruit. These are picked together and there are six tries. All fermented in French oak for 12 months, with natural yeast and some barrels Botrytis affected (usually around 2% of blend). Fantastic palate, just overflowing with delicious, honeyed, nectarine fruit. 93/100.

return to South Africa 2010