A Wine Lover’s Weekly Review Of $10 Wines – A South African Chenin Blanc

We get had a lot regarding luck with South African wines in both our bargain reviews and our other reviews. I cannot remember the last time I tried a Chenin Blanc, so perchance that in itself is a comment on this often far from remarkable grape. Don’t get me wrong; there are some great Chenin Blanc wines on the market, but few, if any, will be institute in this price range. My supplier presently stocks 6 bottles of a Loire Valley (France) Clos de la Coulee de Serrant Savennieres 1995 produced by arguably the world’s best biodynamic winemaker, Nicolas Joly. But at about $225 a bottle you won’t see it reviewed here or in my organic wine column.

Today’s wine comes from mostly old bush vines in the Helderberg area from Stellenbosch, not far from Capetown. These hand-picked grapes were grown in mineral soil in vineyards facing the vastness where the days are hot and sunny and the evenings are really cool. The 2006 version of this vinic was ranked 6th in the international head 100 Outstrip BUYS in the American publication, The Wine Enthusiast. Just now we are talking in re a 2008. Our comrade wine is a 2005 Verdelho from a major Australian producer.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY: All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the replete retail price.

Wine Reviewed: The Winery of Good Hope Chenin Blanc 2008 13.5% ardent spirits about $10

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. Tasting Note: This wine starts with a curvy nose concerning pineapple, apricot and melon, leading into a veritable pretty interplay of tropical melon and spice on the palate. Elegant with a cheerful overall character, this Chenin balances acid also fruit well, creating a rounded wine with a delicate edge. Overall, dependable and fun. Score – 88. (Susan Kostrzewa, Wine Enthusiast, March 2009). Furthermore now for my review.

At the first sips the wine showed bright acidity. It had good length but I tasted unripe melons. The initial meal started with tomatoey barbecued chicken wings. Now the Chenin Blanc’s acidity was harsh and the melons seemed uniform extra unripe. Things worked better alongside a similarly prepared chicken breast. The wine was initially sweet and its acidity was round. Whereas facing the accompanying potatoes roasted in chicken fat the Steen (that what South Africans call Chenin Blanc) had excess acidity, which however did a good job cutting the grease. With a fresh tomato the wine was too acidic and yet mellow.

My next meal was a boxed vegetarian lasagna containing ricotta connective mozzarella cheese to which I added lots of grated parmesan cheese. Now the acidity was round and I tasted slightly green apples. The first dessert about fresh strawberries meant an acidic vinous without much fruit. Things were worse, wine wise, near the time dessert, chocolate macaroons. The Steen was overwhelmed, all that remained was a little acidity.

My final meal centered on an omelet with plenty of ground chilies. The wine’s acidity was fine but there wasn’t many fruit. Black Kalamata (Greek) olives were naturally too powerful for the wine. When paired with a store-bought, bearably spicy, guacamole, the Chenin Blanc provided good acidity but exclusively light fruit.

The principal cheese was a bland white cheddar. The wine was present, sort of. When facing a Muenster, this wine picked up depth and fruit.

Final verdict. I would not buy this wine again unless I got a much better price and was holding a Muenster cheese and wine tasting. This winery sells a presumably higher quality Chenin Blanc for a few dollars more. And I’d only have to drive a few hundred miles to pick one up. Do you remember that old phrase, no way Jose?