Before this tasting Breedekloof was totally off my radar. So it was great to catch up with three Breedekloof guys, Pieter Cronje, De Wet Lategan and Attie Loew to hear about a new Chenin Blanc initiative in the region.
Breedekloof is a relatively undiscovered area. You reach it by going through Paarl, through the tunnel in the mountain, and then it’s the first region you get to as the valley opens out, before you get to Worcester and Robertson. It has one-fifth of South Africa’s Chenin plantings. It’s a narrow part of the valley so the mountains have an influence. It also has more rain than neighbouring regions (twice that of Paarl, three times that of Robertson). Soils are washed out sand and sandstone with pebbles.
It’s an old agricultural area, with vineyards being planted here since 1840. It’s now pretty much dedicated to vines. 90% of the farms are farmed by the owners, and 80% of these are third generation or older. There’s late bud break after cold winters, and harvesting is quite late, in the later part of March, under moderate conditions.
This Breedekloof Chenin initiative started last year. Participating wineries were asked to do something different, to expess Chenin’s different personalities. The only rule was that they had to make at least three barrels, the minimum required by competitions. So they did things like use older blocks, play with wild ferments, use skin contact, lees work and so on.
There are 25 wineries in the region, ranging from small producers to large co-ops. Nine took part, and these are their wines.
Deetleefs Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
Old vines, 1300 bottles made. Textured and broad but still fresh with lovely white peach and pear fruit. Real finess here. Subtle creaminess and hints of cheese with nice texture and freshness. 92/100
Merwida Chenin Blanc 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
Very taut and fresh with some tangerine and pear fruit, as well as some spiciness. Textured, and in need of some time for the oak to settle down. 91/100
Dasch Bosch Steen 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
Lots of lees contact here, fermented and aged in old oak. Lovely complex marmalade, spice and pear aromatics. Has some nuts and honey on the palate. Real complexity here with some oxidative notes, and hints of cheese and herbs. 92/100
Goudini Cellar Mirabilis regis-filia Chenin Blanc 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
Rich, bold and spicy with peach and pear fruit. Powerful and rich with some warmth from the alcohol (14.5% alcohol). A bit oily. 87/100
Botha Kelder Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc Bush Vine 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
Nice spiciness. Lovely supple broad pear and peach fruit with nice texture and depth. Bold with nice fruit quality. 90/100
Bergsig Chenin Blanc Reserve 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
Lovely nose of grapefruit and tangerine with sweet spicy herby notes. Textural and quite fine with a nice spiciness. Warm nutty notes and lovely depth, as well as a hint of vanilla. 92/100
Breëland Chenin Blanc Royal 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
Complex and lively with tangerine, spice, lemon and apricot notes. Fresh and complex with nice pear and ripe apple fruit. Complex, lively and focused. 93/100
Opstal Estate Carl Everson Chenin Blanc 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
30 year old vines, wild ferment, old French oak. Lively and complex with nice pear and peach fruit showing some spiciness. Lovely density: warm but fresh with nice complexity and depth. 92/100
Lateganskop The Zahir 2014 Breedekloof, South Africa
From 21 year old bush vines. Very complex with a herby, cabbagey edge and fresh tangerines and spice, as well as some lemon fruit. Complex, distinctive and bright with a vivid personality. 91/100
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