2 South African Chenin Blancs for Drink Chenin Day, Friday, June 17

Drink Chenin Day logoDrink Chenin Day is on Friday, June 17. Chenin Blanc has been grown in South Africa since the 1600s, and it continues to be the most widely planted varietal, accounting for nearly 20% of the acreage currently under vine. If you have not tried Chenin Blanc from South Africa, you are missing out on a very versatile food-friendly wine.

I opened up two bottles of South African Chenin Blanc to give you some idea of what you can expect from this grape, and hopefully pique your curiosity to buy a bottle to enjoy on Drink Chenin Day. The two wines that I tasted are completely different in style; one lighter in aromas and flavours, and the other bigger and richer, quite similar to an oaked Chardonnay that you would get from Napa Valley.

As I mentioned, Chenin Blanc makes wine that is very food-friendly, in either sparkling or still styles.  These two wines are still.  Recently there was some discussion of pairing potato chips with wine so I tasted both wines with pepperoncini flavoured potato chips.  I also cooked tandoori chicken along with jasmine rice in coconut water and a salad with English cucumber and tomatoes.  Which wines paired nicely with these two very different foods?

My Wine Tasting Notes

Anthonij Rupert Wyne Protea Chenin Blanc 2020 (BC $14.99)

The winemaking notes for the 2022 vintage is on the winery website.  I think these notes also describe how the wine was made for the 2020 vintage. “The fruit was both de-stemmed and whole-bunch pressed before overnight settling. The individual parcels were fermented separately by a selection of cultured yeast strains in stainless steel tanks.”

There are two things I like about this bottle.  The first thing is the white blossoms painted on the bottle.  The winery promotes upcycling, so once you are finished drinking the wine, you can soak the label and back label off, and you then have a pretty bottle that you can use at home for flavoured vinegar or oil.  The other thing I like is that the bottle comes with a cork.  Not the cork where you need a corkscrew.  This cork is more shaped like a champagne cork.  To open the bottle you take the plastic wrapper off, then twist the cork. The cork easily goes back into the bottle as well.

Appearance: A medium intensity bright straw colour with a tinge of green.
Nose: Medium-plus intensity aromas of ripe stone fruit and toast (from the whole bunch pressing), with touches of citrus and bramble leaf. I think I also picked up some floral and orange scents with swirling. You get ripe stonefruit and more citrus and orange with decanting, less toast and no bramble leaf.
Palate: Dry, and soft with a lighter body, but medium-plus acidity. A light mouthfeel, round, but not mouth-filling. I picked up stone fruits and pears with a light toasty edge. Also some crisp apple, melon, and a streak of minerality. The wine feels fuller-bodied and rounder, and more mouth-filling with decanting.  Stone fruits and apple along with a touch of orange on the palate.
Finish: A medium length finishing with flavours of apples and peaches, plus hints of honey and white pepper. Floral, peppery, and stone fruits on the finish with decanting.

An elegant wine with a light touch.  I think a short decant gives the wine a bit nicer rounder mouthfeel, but decant or not, it is a wonderful wine to sip.

Rating: 4 stars4.5 stars Medium-plus bright straw with a green tint.  Medium-plus nose with ripe stone fruit and toast, and touches of citrus and bramble leaf upon opening.  Dry, round, lighter-bodied.  Stone fruits, pears, toast and apple flavours.

Anthonij Rupert Wyne Protea Chenin Blanc 2020 and Nederburg The Anchorman Chenin Blanc 2018 with wines in glasses
Anthonij Rupert Wyne Protea Chenin Blanc 2020 and Nederburg The Anchorman Chenin Blanc 2018 with wines in glasses

Nederburg The Anchorman Chenin Blanc 2018 (BC $22.99)

From the winery,  “This wine is made from barrel-fermented Chenin blanc fruit sourced from Swartland and Paarl vines, 37 and 38 years old respectively. These heritage vines are certified by South Africa’s esteemed Old Vine Project (OVP). One portion of fruit was fermented in (first, second and third fill 300 litre and 500 litre barrels. A second component was fermented in stainless steel tanks, while a third was fermented in clay amphorae. After fermentation, the various components were kept on the lees for nine months prior to final blending and bottling.”

The Anchorman I believe is meant to honour, Nederburg’s founding father, Philippus Wolvaart, a pioneer who put down anchor at Nederbug in 1791 and started to make wine at this location.

Appearance: A deep intense gold colour in the glass.
Nose: Pronounced aromas of ripe pineapple and toast plus some roasted lemon. The aromas and intensity of aromas stay the same with decanting.
Palate: Dry, with a thick lush, round mouthfeel. Has a light acidic prickle backbone. Ripe pineapple flavours followed by pears and apples on the mid-palate. Also, I get butterscotch and oak flavours.  With decanting, you still get a big, thick lush round mouthfeel, but there is now a stronger acidic backbone to this wine.  The flavours of ripe pineapple, roasted pears and apple continue with decanting.
Finish: A medium-plus length with lingering flavours of toasty ripe pineapple and apple, plus some pepperiness and honey at the very end. No change in length or flavours with decanting.

Rating: 4 stars A big wine with deep intense gold colour.  Dry, fuller-bodied with a rich, lush mouthfeel.  Light acidic prickle in the background.  Ripe pineapple followed by roasted pears and apples, plus a touch of butterscotch and oak.  Medium-plus length with a lingering finish showing toast, ripe pineapple and apple.

Wine and Food Pairing

Pairing Chenin Blanc with Tandoori Chicken
Pairing Chenin Blanc with Tandoori Chicken

If you want to have a casual time on the patio, you may open a bag of potato chips and munch away while you sip on a glass of wine.  I enjoy spicy and sour flavours, so opened a bag of pepperoncini flavoured chips.  The Protea Chenin Blanc is lighter-bodied and has no oak ageing. The fruit flavours and acidity in the wine made a complementary pairing with the crispy, salty, sourness of the chips.  The oak from The Anchorman Chenin Blanc overpowered the flavours of the chips.

My next pairing was the tandoori chicken.  The tandoori spice was a medium intensity and a bit too flavourful for the Protea Chenin Blanc.  It was there in the background but did not add anything to the pairing.  The Anchorman Chenin Blanc was a pleasant surprise.  The oak toned down the spice from the tandoori chicken, plus I picked up more of the pineapple flavour and a buttery texture from the wine.  A recommended pairing.  After doing this pairing, I visited the Nederburg website and saw that they do recommend this wine with a mild Cape Malay dish, so the tandoori pairing made sense.

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

The Protea Chenin Blanc is available at BC Liquor StoresNederburg The Anchorman Chenin Blanc is available at Fraser Commons Liquor and the Vancouver Everything Wine store.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.