Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2016



I try not to plagiarise but will occasionally include apt phrases that perfectly capture a concept. South African/US songwriter Dave Matthews was perhaps tasting an old Chenin when he wrote:Bartender you see, the wine that’s drinking me; came from the vine that strung Judas from the devil’s tree, its roots deep, deep in the ground. The power of vine age cannot be underestimated, especially in our limitless gravelly soils. Over 36 years the roots of the old vines have penetrated down many metres eking out small deposits of minerals and any remaining moisture which evens out seasonal effect and negates the need for irrigation in even the driest of summers.

Don’t be fooled by the delicate hue which is diminutively reminiscent of an ear of rye. The nose rears up like a stallion eager to mount the seven kingdoms, showing powerful aromas of white peach, tangy grapefruit and honey roasted muesli. Sweet lemon curd and pure white vanilla lead on to passion fruit skin and a cranberry astringency. The young wine opens remarkably in the glass to reveal piquant arum lily, spicy peppertree, an intriguing hint of sweetmeat then something ancient and familiar like the fibrous wool of a saddle worn kilim. In the mouth this is one fat bird! Plump and chewable, there is a beautiful succulence like flesh departing the bone of a slow roasted pheasant. The fruit flavours are somewhat blurred as honey glazed dried apricot and candied orange zest play hide and seek with stewed rhubarb and the tart bite of granny smith apple. There is minerality to the texture somewhere between schist and shale and like steps hewn into an ice cliff, the cuboid structure is solid enough to keep even the White Walkers at bay. There is a burst of earth-quenching acidity which kick starts the taste buds and spreads deliciously to the farthest reaches of the palate. A wave of ash-fine phenolics builds then recedes like sand on an ebbing tide, to smooth any rough edges from the palate. Though the wine shows youthful desire, there is something more complex and homely in the finish like a wide hipped and sure footed Dothraki princess.

Technical Information

Harvest Date                19 Apr 2016                            Residual Sugar             17g/l

Brix at Harvest             22.4                                         Bottling Date                21 October 2016

Final Alcohol               12.2%                                      Release Date                1 September 2017

pH                               2.79                                         Cellaring                      2-10 years

Total Acid                    7.88 g/l                                    Quantity Produced:      739 bottles