Western Cape Chenin Blanc

In the 1650’s, while toiling to create productive fields at the end of a rutted ox wagon trail that connected with the small coastal outpost of Cape Town, farmers also had to keep their ears tuned for a tell-tale shot ringing out from the heights of Kanonkop (‘cannon hill’). Repeated by a string of relay-cannons, the booming signal would eventually reach the remotest inland settlements; announcing the port arrival of a sailing ship requiring fresh provisions! Resupply and repair of the Dutch East India Company’s Maritime fleet at the southern outcrop of Africa was a compelling motivation in the 17th century for founding Cape of Good Hope as a refueling station; critically positioned halfway between Atlantic home ports in the Netherlands and the Indonesian trade colonies of Batavia that lay across the Indian Ocean and Java Sea. Included on the checklist of ships’ stores was the need to replenish their bottled spirits. The French Huguenot settlers who had been enlisted by the Dutch company recruiters were quick to transplant grapevines into this untapped agricultural paradise, then sell onboard the finished wines!

With some justified claim to being one of the Cape’s renowned white grape varieties, the plucky, old, and gnarly bush vines that produce Chenin Blanc thrive, unirrigated, in this dryland region’s crushed granite soils. Challenged by these conditions, the long-lived rootstock has learned to burrow deeply; drawing on the mineral-rich nutrients and moisture that have percolated downward in the rocky terrain. As is often the case with grapevines, environmental stresses promote the development of more characterful fruit; invested with a nuanced layering of flavour. The desirable combination is evident in this DéClassé featured bottling of a historically unheralded, though now renascent, Chenin Blanc wine style. Well suited to the terroirs of the continent’s southernmost tip, this vintner has aptly and evocatively named the offering, Vinum Africa.

helderberg

Comprising 20% of South Africa’s total cultivation and output, the winelands of the Stellenbosch region in the Western Cape continue to rise in the competitive ranks of reputation. The somewhat younger, ocean-facing vineyards of the Winery of Good Hope lining the lower slopes of the Helderberg (bright mountain), are one cornerstone of a farming enterprise that’s at the creative forefront of exploiting the advantages of a dynamic wine region, and its motivated cadre of world-class winemakers. Hands-on harvesting, manual sorting, and careful selection lead the production process where natural fermentation of the grapes takes place in stainless steel tanks. While a majority of the harvest is left to linger on the expired yeast (lees), infusing the batch with some subtle toasty notes, the other 30% is transferred to mixed generations of Oak barrels where it takes on its spice accents. The final blend and resting of both components for several months is a key step in a recipe that imbues the still-crisp acidic fruit with considerable aromatic depth and range. It’s also the measurable distinction for how Chenin Blanc develops a more rounded flavour profile in SA; contrasting the leaner versions that are fashioned in its native France, where it’s known as Pineau de la Loire.

The striking embossed symbol acting as a label combines an ethnic flourish with the Latin term Vinum (wine) and was conceived as an expression of the positive political, historical and social progression in a revitalizing South Africa. Proudly playing out their part, the passion, and care of these vintners is palatable in the glass. This is a lovely layered wine, offered at a very reasonable price-point and we’re very fortunate to have access to some of the limited cases from the 2015 vintage!

Vinum Africa

VINUM AFRICA CHENIN BLANC 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #739995 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Stellenbosch, South Africa
By: The Winery of Good Hope
Release Date: March 4, 2017

Tasting Note
Medium-bodied, fragrant and dry, try serving this zesty wine with Mediterranean dishes, grilled vegetables of all sorts, sushi or as a compliment to Asian cuisine. It’s also very satisfying as an apéritif with goat cheese canapés or onion tarts.

Western Cape Chenin Blanc

With some justified claim to being one of the Cape’s renowned white grape varieties, the plucky, old, and gnarly bush vines that produce Chenin Blanc thrive, unirrigated, in this dryland region’s crushed granite soils. Challenged by these conditions, the long-lived rootstock has learned to burrow deeply; drawing on the mineral-rich nutrients and moisture that have percolated downward in the rocky terrain. As is often the case with grapevine, environmental stresses promote the development of more characterful fruit; invested with a nuanced layering of flavours. The desirable combination is evident in this DéClassé featured bottling of a historically unheralded, though now renascent, Chenin Blanc wine style. Well suited to the temperate terroirs of the continent’s southernmost tip, this vintner has aptly and evocatively named the offering, Vinum Africa.

Comprising 20% of South Africa’s total cultivation and output, the winelands of the Stellenbosch region in the Western Cape continue to rise in the competitive ranks of reputation; in the country and internationally. Blessed with a diversity of microclimates and soil composition, its potential was first recognized by French Huguenots who arrived in the 1690’s and immediately began planting vines. The somewhat younger, ocean-facing vineyards of the Winery of Good Hope lining the lower slopes of the Helderberg (bright mountain), are one cornerstone of a farming enterprise that’s at the creative forefront of exploiting the advantages of a dynamic wine region, and its motivated cadre of world-class winemakers.

helderberg

Hands-on harvesting, manual sorting, and careful selection lead the production process where natural fermentation of the grapes takes place in stainless steel tanks. While a majority of the harvest is left to linger on the expired yeast (lees), infusing the batch with some subtle toasty notes, the other 30% is transferred to mixed generations of Oak barrels where it takes on its spice accents. The final blending and resting of both components for several months is a key step in a recipe that imbues the still-crisp acidic fruit with considerable aromatic depth and range. It’s also the measurable distinction for how Chenin Blanc develops a more rounded flavour profile in SA; contrasting the leaner versions that are fashioned in its native France, where it’s known as Pineau de la Loire.

The striking symbol acting as a label combines an ethnic flourish with the Latin term Vinum (wine) and was conceived as an expression of the positive political, historical and social progression in a revitalizing South Africa. Proudly playing out their part, the passion and care of these vintners is palatable in the glass. This is a lovely layered wine, offered at a very reasonable price-point and we’re fortunate to have access to some of the 2,600 cases from the 2013 vintage!

Vinum Africa

VINUM AFRICA CHENIN BLANC 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #739995 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Stellenbosch, South Africa
By: The Winery of Good Hope
Release Date: March 19, 2016

Tasting Note
Medium-bodied, fragrant and dry, try serving this zesty wine with Mediterranean dishes, grilled vegetables of all sorts, sushi or as a compliment to Asian cuisine. It’s also very satisfying as an apéritif with goat cheese canapés or onion tarts.

Chenin Blanc Alert

With some justified claim to becoming one of the Cape’s greatest white grape
varieties, the plucky, old and gnarly bush vines which produce Chenin Blanc do
so well because of their ability to thrive in this region’s arid, unirrigated, crushed
granite soils. Compelled by the dryland conditions, the root stock burrows deeply,
seeking moisture and mineral-rich nutrients. As is often the case with grapevine,
the stresses, counter-intuitively, promote development of characterful fruit with
more-nuanced layers of flavour in the finished wines. That’s certainly the case in
this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of a historically overlooked though
now resurgent white, varietal style from this continent’s southernmost tip: the
aptly and evocatively named Vinum Africa.

Comprising 20% of South Africa’s total cultivation and output, the winelands of
the Stellenbosch region in the western cape continue to rise in the competitive
ranks of reputation, both locally and internationally. Blessed with a diversity of
micro-climates and soil composition, its potential was first recognized by French
Huguenots who arrived in the 1690’s and immediately began planting vines. The
somewhat younger, ocean-facing vineyards of the Winery of Good Hope line the
slopes of Helderberg (bright mountain) and are a dynamic farming enterprise at
the forefront of creatively exploiting this emerging, wine making terroir.

Hands-on harvesting, manual sorting and selection lead a careful production
process where fermentation of most of the grapes takes place in the coolness
of stainless steel tanks. While it’s left to linger in the expired yeast (on its lees),
infusing the batch with some subtle, toasty hints, the other 30% is transferred
into Burgundian Oak barrels where it takes on its spiced accents. Final blending
of both components is the recipe key which allows for a balance of freshly acidic,
still-crisp fruit endowed with considerable aromatic depth.

The striking symbol acting as label, combines an ethnic flourish with the latin
term Vinum (wine) and was conceived as an expression of the positive political,
historical and social progression in a revitalizing South Africa. Proudly playing
out their part, the passion and care of these vintners is palatable in the glass.
This is truly a lovely, layered wine, offered at a very reasonable price-point.

Vinum Africa

VINUM AFRICA CHENIN BLANC 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #739995 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Stellenbosch, South Africa
By: The Winery of Good Hope
Release Date: May 16, 2015

Tasting Note
Medium-bodied, fragrant and dry, try serving this zesty wine with Mediterranean
dishes, grilled vegetables of all sorts, sushi or as complement to Asian cuisine. It’s
also satisfying as an apéritif with goat cheese canapés.