I have two more South African Chenin Blanc for you to celebrate Drink Chenin Day on June 17. Both wines are from the Spier Wine Farm in the Stellenbosch region. The Spier Signature Chenin Blanc 2021 is unoaked and probably the one you may be most familiar with. The other wine is the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2019 which has oak ageing. You can see the versatility of how this grape can be fermented. Stainless with bright fruit, or deeper flavoured with oak. Let me tell you about these wines.
My Wine Tasting Notes
Spier Signature Chenin Blanc 2021 (BC $13.99)
Winemaker’s notes, “Grapes were hand-harvested, de-stemmed and slightly crushed before pressing and brief contact on the skins. Free run juice settled in the tanks overnight. The clear settled juice of the individual block selections (some kept separate and some blended) was racked from the lees and inoculated with selected yeast strains. Fermentation was temperature controlled. Maturation occurred on the fine lees for another 3 months to give extra body and elegance to this unoaked wine.” What a fantastic price for this wine.
Appearance: A medium intensity, bright straw colour.
Nose: Medium-minus intensity aromas of apricots, citrus, guava, honey, and a touch of lychee. The aromas appear to intensify with decanting, deeper aromas, with the addition of dried apricots to the already mentioned aromas.
Palate: Slightly off-dry, lighter body, with a bright light acidic prickle. Some waxiness and minerality on the palate. Flavours of guava, citrus, pear, citrus pith, green fruit, and some grape stem. With decanting this wine appears to be drier and has higher acidity. Honey and peach flavours are more evident.
Finish: Medium-plus length finishing with the light acidic prickle, some pepperiness and then peach, honey and guava flavours. More acidity on the finish with decanting, plus green fruit flavours.
The wine opens up and becomes even more expressive with decanting. Give it a short decant and enjoy.
Rating: – A medium straw colour. Lighter aromas of apricots, citrus, honey, guava and a touch of lychee. Lighter body, slightly off-dry (before decanting). Round but not mouth-filling. Citrus, citrus pith, pears and green fruit flavours. Light acidic prickle on the finish along with peach, pepperiness, honey and guava flavours.
Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2019 (BC $39.98++)
A range of single varietal wines that represent both the conditions of each vintage and the nuance of terroir. The Spier farm has 21 architecturally significant gables – the most on any wine farm in South Africa and all meticulously restored. This wine is named in honour of these gables.
Winemaker’s notes, “At harvest, the grapes were picked in 4 parcels in late February… This partial picking was done to select the grapes at different ripeness levels, encouraging complexity. The grapes were hand-harvested in 8kg lug boxes and pre-cooled before hand-sorting, destemming and crushing. Skin contact was limited to 6 hours, and the free-run juice drained off to settle overnight before inoculation. Fermentation took place in a combination of 300L, 400L, 500L and 2500L tight-grain French-oak barrels. We use different oak barrel sizes to add varying levels of oak influence that can then be skillfully blended for the final wine. I think of this wine as a single varietal made like a blend. The Chenin Blanc then matured for 14 months in barrels – 60% new oak, with the balance being second fill.”
Appearance: A deep lemon-gold colour.
Nose: Medium-plus intensity aromas of toasty oak, butterscotch, ripe pineapple and toasted almonds. The aromas lighten up a touch with decanting and you can add some butter notes.
Palate: Dry and round with a thicker creamy mouthfeel. Lots of toast, ripe pineapple and roasted pear flavours. Some waxiness, butterscotch, roasted pears and a touch of apricot on the palate. The wine feels slightly off-dry with decanting and you get a lighter mouthfeel. You still get the roundness and creamy mouthfeel after decanting, plus the flavours of toast, ripe pineapple and roasted pear flavours, and now some grape stem.
Finish: Medium-plus length finishing with ripe pineapple, toast, oak and butterscotch, and light touches of pepperiness, honey and apricot at the very end. About the same finish with decanting, other than adding some grape stem flavour.
Decant or not is OK. There is not a significant difference between the wine’s aromas and flavours.
Rating: Deep lemon-gold colour. Medium-plus intensity aromas of toast, butterscotch, ripe pineapple and toasted almonds. Dry, full-body, round with lots of toast, ripe pineapple and roasted pears, plus touches of waxiness and butterscotch on the palate. Medium-plus length finishing with ripe pineapple and toast, light pepperiness and butterscotch flavours.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
Spier Signature Chenin Blanc is available at BC Liquor Stores. The Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc is available at the South Surrey Everything Wine store and at Marquis Wine Cellars in downtown Vancouver.