Lets talk SA Chenin Blanc!

TN: 2013 Spier Chenin Blanc 21 Gables, Stellenbosch S Africa.

One of the best CBs out of S Africa in my opinion. 14 months in French oak, 60% new. 14% alc, Lot 4-087. SC, I usually cellar 4 yrs, $31 Cdn and I like to serve quite chilled.

Shows no real sign of age, medium yellow, not even close to gold.
Apricot, pear, mineral, hint of smoke after an hour. Taster across the table thought “vanilla”.
Initial entry thought was some sweetness and nicely evolved. Very good fruit balance here, oak has integrated for sure. No downside here! Pineapple, peach, apricot…thirst quenching. Has slight honeyed edge after a couple of hrs, “not too citrussy”. This wine was still drinking nicely on day 2. Bravo!

Always been curious about SA CB. Great note, sounds like it was a good bottle. I think I have had SA CB once or twice. Is it generally around 14%? Usually the ones in the states and the ones from Loire that I have tried clock in at 12 - 12.5%.

This summer we have been enjoying Landskroon CB from Paarl, stainless fermentation and 13% ABV - medium body and decidedly crisp, and an outstanding QPR at $10.99.

Like RSA chenin blancs but love Loire chenin blancs more. Need to try a few more that need to be hunted out. Would like to try some of the Sadie Family chenins but are difficult to find and require a bit of cash. For many years my standard table chenin was the Ken Forrester ‘Petit Chenin’ . At $8-10 it was hard to beat. I’ll have to look for the Spier you mentioned Bob. Thank you for the recommendation.

Add - After a quick look on Winesearcher I’m not sure that one is available in the USA.

Maybe not, but the Secateurs CB is absolutely killer for $12-15.


Good thread. Craven and Thorne & Daughters are a couple of my favs.

Sadie Family is a very good producer. I’ve had few of their Chenins. They need some time and can be austere if too impatient. Settled and right conditions, amazing bottles. I still remember the last I had. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, however worth seeking out and worth the cash. They probably float near 50 - 60 now I’d guess.

Ken Forrester FMC. F—— Magic Chenin!

I love well-made SA CB, but to me that 21 Gables certainly wasn’t one. To me Chenin Blanc is a rather delicate and “transparent” grape variety that can’t take much new oak as it quickly loses varietal character and starts to taste just oaky.

Matter of tastes, for sure, but for me that 21 Gables tasted just heavily woody. You could taste that there is good-quality stuff underneath all the wood, but you really couldn’t get past all that wood, vanilla cream, caramel and butter. There are tons of great SA CBs out there, but in my opinion 21 Gables is just a winemaker’s wine.

This has been my experience for my likes in chenin. It seems to me that blending chenin blanc fermented in large aged oak puncheons with stainless fermented makes for a nicely balanced wine. Also stainless fermented chenin blanc where it rests on the lees without stirring is another winner.

Raats makes a really nice Chenin that is sub$15 and imminently quaffable. I buy it in most years, wife loves it.

Here is Neal’s note on the 2019:

The 2019 Original Chenin Blanc comes from two soil types: decomposed granite and sandstone, with six months’ aging on the lees. The lively, outgoing bouquet features bold lemon curd, damp straw and mango aromas. The palate is fresh and crisp on the entry with notes of lime and orange zest, leading to a vibrant, zesty finish. Delicious.

90 points, Neal Martin, Vinous (Nov 2019)

Alcohol By Volume: 13.5%

tagging this thread as I have yet to find any seekable SA Chenin–and I want to! Thanks for the fine note, Bob, and for everyone else’s input here.

I’d recommend looking for Chenin Blancs from producers such as Sadie Family, Mullineux and David & Nadia.

The aforementioned FMC Chenin Blanc is pretty good too, but quite heavy in oak when it’s young and thus really calls for further aging to integrate it with the fruit.

If Spier interests you, I think their lower-tier Seaward Chenin is much better than the aforementioned, higher-tier 21 Gables Chenin, because the fruit quality is almost the same in both the wines, but Seaward sees less new oak - and even then it’s already somewhat oaky. The 21 Gables is just excessively woody for my taste.

First post on WB. Happy to start contributing to a great source of information!

I just started trying some SA CB and have been really happy to do so! You already have a lot of good suggestions on this thread.

For cheaper options:
Badenhorst Secateurs (definitely a good option)
Ken Forrester CB Old Vines Reserve (cheaper and definitely more approachable than the FMC)
Reyneke Organic (hate the name, like the wine)
Mullineux Kloof Street Old Vines (decent)

If you don’t mind a few bucks more:
Alheit Vineyards (Magnetic North and Huilkrans, also not a CB but their Cartology Bushvines is a favorite of mine)
Sadie Family (some good cuvées are also blending in some Palomino)
Adi Badenhorst (Piet Bok and other single vineyards)
Mullineux (Granite)
De Morgenzon (Reserve)

My two latest forays into SA Chenin Blanc that have really surprised me:
Duncan Savage (Never been asked to dance): beautiful CB showing some of the richness and fruit of SA CB but also a nice supporting acidity and slight bitterness.
Reenen Borman (Patatsfontein): showing a lot of reduction upon opening but than it kept transforming over a couple of hours after decanting. The last glass was showing a beautiful profile of citrus, quince and nice minerality. My others will stay laying down for a while but I think it has great potential.

What I have on deck is:
Avondale Qvevri Paarl 2018 - 100% CB, middle-aged vines and fermented in Georgian qvevri. I just bought one bottle to try it out.

As if discovering all great Loire CB was not enough. Not enough time, too big of a world, too many great winemakers…!

Phil…all those CBs are in your area?


The 4 “cheaper options” are available easily. So is the Avondale.

Sadie, Mullineux and De Morgenzon more expensive stuff you have to catch them on arrival! Some are available through lottery only.

Alheit, Badenhorst single vineyards, Savage and Borman are available via private imports only. The Quebec system is an acquired taste… and hard to navigate. [head-bang.gif]

I did not report back on this one (drunk in November): short and simple. Some bitterness that doesn’t sit well with me with this wine. I would not buy again.

Coincidentally I recently had the base Chenin from David & Nadia and the “Kloof Street” Chenin from Mullineux, and thought both were very good. Actually I think they were about equal in quality, but the Kloof Street is quite a bit cheaper. I thought the David & Nadia was good but the Kloof Street was a better value. Consumed over three days it was showed a bit more ripe fruit than what I am used to in Loire CB, but remained fresh and vibrant.

For every day value drinkers, can’t go wrong with Secateurs or Raats. For more special bottles, I’m definitely partial to Sadie Family. I need to try David & Nadia!