Up bright and early on Monday morning to head into Cape Town for the Chenin Blanc Association conference.
Chenin is a super grape and South Africa has half of the world’s plantings. It represents 18% of South Africa’s vineyard area, so it’s a big deal here.
I learned a lot from the conference. Some bullet points:
It has a relatively limited aromatic profile with few impact compounds, so winemaking can easily impose stylistic characters that over-ride terroir influences.
It has high natural acidity, which is a good thing.
Lots of South Africa’s Chenin vineyards are planted with high-yielding clones. These aren’t very interesting, but vine age can make them interesting.
The appellation boundaries (wards) in South Africa don’t match with regions of uniform terroir. Terroir in South Africa is quite complex and changes over short distances. So it’s not really possible to match demarcated regions of origin with Chenin styles.
When it comes to communicating with consumers, there are two types of Chenin thatcan be distinguished: fresh and fruity on one hand, and rich and wooded on the other. But really there is a continuum of styles. The association are working on a sort of style indicator graphic to communicate what people can expect to find in the bottle.
At the high end, there are lots of different styles of Chenin.
We had a really nice lunch at Nobu after the meeting, with the food matched with Chenin. Chenin is a versatile food wine in its many guises.