We are an importer, exporter & wholesaler of alcoholic beverages & food with type 14 public warehouse & fulfillment service

7 of the Best Value Chenin Blancs From South Africa

Like its people and culture, South African wine is a melting pot. You can find just about everything there, from the Cabernets and Merlots of Bordeaux to the Syrahs and Grenaches of the Rhône to the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy and California, among the reds; and all kinds of whites, including Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. All of them thrive in the highly varied, southernmost Cape region of South Africa.

This is among the coolest parts of the country and the entire continent. It’s where the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans converge and where mountains tower not far inland. In between are the winelands, as they are known.

Just about all the vineyards in South Africa are located within a couple of hours or so of Cape Town and benefit from cooling influences of the sea. It’s a stunningly beautiful part of the world, as I saw for myself on a visit in 2016. Where else can you find baboons, penguins, ostriches, and whales within an hour of the vineyards?

And the wines? There are so many that deserve more attention among American wine drinkers. Here, in the first of two columns, I’m focusing on South Africa’s Chenin Blancs in the under-$30 category. I had a hunch that there would be a lot of standouts, and I wasn’t disappointed.

As I’ve noted before, Chenin Blanc is a relatively unsung star. It produces storied wines from France’s Loire Valley — among them Vouvray, Montlouis, and Savennières, which vie for attention with the more ubiquitous Sauvignon Blancs like Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.

Most people probably don’t realize that Chenin is also South Africa’s leading white variety — and its most planted grape. Some wineries still call it Steen, a name that goes back to its European roots in South Africa hundreds of years ago (here’s a good summary of its history).

The grape is grown all over the Cape region in most of its appellations. In the wines below, some “Wine of Origin” designations — South Africa’s term for appellations — are quite specific, such as Stellenbosch, Swartland, and Paarl, while others fall under broader designations such as Western Cape. Most of them are made without oak, though many are aged on the lees, which tends to give them a richer, slightly creamy style. All of these wines represent impressive values that, for now at least, are a hallmark of South Africa’s wines.

Here are seven top South African Chenin Blancs:

Beaumont Family Wines Chenin Blanc 2023

This expression from the small, cool-climate Bot River appellation in Walker Bay is young and crisp with fresh tropical and stone fruit flavors and a mineral note. The winery’s slogan, “elegance over power,” is an apt description. The wine is aged in concrete and stainless-steel tanks.

Price: $19
Buy This Wine

Lievland Vineyards Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2022

This well-balanced wine from the Paarl region shows notes of ripe stone fruit and muted citrus along with hints of smoke and flint and touches of cream and minerals. It’s crisp and elegant with racy acidity.

Price: $17
Buy This Wine

Reyneke Biodynamic Chenin Blanc 2022

Ripe pear, hints of herbs, a touch of butterscotch, and tingly acidity are the hallmarks of this superbly balanced wine from Stellenbosch, South Africa’s most famous wine region. The upshot is a somewhat richer style. The grapes are grown biodynamically.

Price: $30
Buy This Wine

A.A. Badenhorst Curator White Blend 2022

From the Swartland region comes this unbeatable $13 blend of Chenin Blanc (59 percent) and equal parts Chardonnay and Viognier. There are notes of pear and orange with a hint of baking spices. Ample acidity keeps it refreshing.

Price: $13
Buy This Wine

Bosman Family Vineyards Generation 8 Chenin Blanc 2022

From one of South Africa’s oldest wineries, this wine from the Coastal Region of the Western Cape is part of Bosman’s Generation 8 value line. Aromas of pink grapefruit and flint are followed by ripe white peach, orange, and more grapefruit and flint on the palate. There’s a nice creamy layer on the finish. Lots of complexity here. One retailer (link below) is selling this superb-value wine for just $13, which is a steal given its quality. (Also worth trying: Bosman’s Adama, a white blend of Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc.)

Price: $13
Buy This Wine

The Winery of Good Hope Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2022

This Chenin from Stellenbosch is complex and delicious with tropical fruit, stewed pear, and orange notes accented by hints of nutmeg and black licorice. It finishes with lingering minerality. Fermented in stainless-steel tanks with native yeast and aged on the lees for four months.

Price: $19
Buy This Wine

Man Family Wines Chenin Blanc 2023

Made from dry-farmed, old-vine Chenin Blanc in the Cape Coast appellation, this $10 bargain wine drinks well above its price point. Tropical fruit, pink grapefruit, and vanilla notes are supported by refreshing acidity. A case buy.

Price: $10
Buy This Wine

Next up: Sauvignon Blancs and other South African whites.

The article 7 of the Best Value Chenin Blancs From South Africa appeared first on VinePair.

Leave a Comment

Resize text-+=