Winemaking at Gabrielskloof: pressing Chenin Blanc and sorting Pinot Noir

My first day in the cellar at Gabrielskloof was a busy one. This cellar is shared by Peter-Allan Finlayson (who makes Crystallum wines, and also Gabrielskloof, his wife Nicolene’s family winery), John Seccombe (Thorne and Daughters), and Marelise Niemann (Momento), and this means there’s plenty going on.

The day started with some pressing of Chenin Blanc. […]

Some lovely South African whites: Crystallum, Gabrielskloof, Momento, Thorne and Daughters

My first night in South Africa began well. I’m staying here 11 days, working vintage in the cellar at Gabrielskloof, a space shared by four of South Africa’s most interesting producers. It should be a fun time. In addition to Gabrielskloof, there’s Crystallum, Thorne and Daughters and Momento. Friday night was intern braai night, and […]

Off to South Africa, drinking a Chenin in the lounge

I’m in the BA lounge, on the way to South Africa. Tried through the wines, and this was the pick of a rather underwhelming bunch. I’m quite tired: I’ve only just got back from New Zealand, and I’ve had a busy few days in London. I shall definitely sleep on the plane.

Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2016 […]

Sebastien Brunet Les Pentes de la Folie Vouvray

Another find at Scotch wine bar in Blenheim. So much Vouvray is disappointing, but this domaine, which Sébastien took over from his father in 2006, is making the most of these exceptional terroirs. This is his top dry Chenin, and it’s lovely.

Domaine Sébastien Brunet Vouvray Les Pentes de la Folie 2015 Loire, France
This Chenin Blanc […]

AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen, a thrilling South African Chenin

I’ve spoken of my love of Adi Badenhorst’s Dassiekop before: it’s one of my favourite Chenins. I brought a bottle to New Zealand and shared it with friends. It was lovely.

AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen 2015 Swartland, South Africa
This is thrilling. Powerful and spicy with citrus and pear and white peach. Lovely lemony brightness under the […]

Two lovely Languedoc wines from Gayda

Had a look at some samples yesterday after getting home from New Zealand, and these two, from Domaine Gayda, stood out.

Gayda Figure Libre Chenin Blanc 2015 Pays d’Oc, France
13.5% alcohol. Organic farming, sandstone soils, 200 m altitude. Harvested in two tries, with 10% botrytis, and fermented in concrete egg. Full yellow colour. This has a lovely […]

Loire adventure: Nicolas and Virginie Joly, Coulée de Serrant, Savennières

La Coulée de Serrant (Chateau de la Roche aux Moines) is a domaine with a narrow focus. It’s just whites. Just Chenin Blanc. Just dry wines. But it is this narrow focus that has contributed to its fame. These are distinctive wines from a distinctive terroir, and they are not without controversy. Some regard this […]

Loire adventure: Vincent Carême, Vouvray

Vincent Carême

The drive from Montlouis to Vouvray took us past the famous troglodyte residences built into the tufa (soft limestone) cliffs that follow the Cher and Loire rivers. Here, homes and wine cellars have been built into caves that were created when limestone for building was extracted. They are quirky and wonderful.

For winegrowers who […]

Loire adventure: Taille aux Loups, Montois, with Jacky Blot

Amboise

The view from my bedroom window!

We finished our appointment at Puzelat and headed to Amboise. It was a beautiful sunny evening, and we were quite excited, because we were staying in a castle right in the middle of town. Nicole, who booked accommodation for the trip, is officially the queen of Airbnb, and […]

Tasting some interesting South African Chenin, with a video

Tasted some nice Chenins lately. It’s such an interesting and adaptable grape variety.

Raats Granite Block Chenin Blanc 2015 Coastal Region, South Africa
Very fruity mandarin and lime notes with some pear richness. Hints of herbs with a nice bright mineral edge to the fruit. Lovely precision to this bright wine with plenty of flavour but a […]