#248 Strange Kompanjie Tea leaf White Blend 2021
VIDEO CHAPTER INDEX:
00:00 – INTRO TO STRANGE KOMPANJIE WINES
01:17 – WHAT DOES THE WINE TASTE AND SMELL LIKE?
02:25 – WHAT’S IN THE BLEND, AND HOW WAS IT MADE?
03:19 – WHAT IS CROUCHEN BLANC?
03:47 – THE GREAT CROUCHEN / RIESLING DEBACLE
05:11 – EMERALD RIESLING
The Great South African Riesling Debacle
The Tea Leaf White Blend is yet another award-winning bottling from the Boutinot-owned Wildeberg stable. The Tea Leaf is made under the more experimental label of Strange Kompanjie Wines, but relies on the Wildeberg winemaking team to get it into bottle. This being the same winemaking team that was crowned “Winery of the Year” at the WineMag.co.za Annual Wine Awards.
The fact that this blend contains a portion of Crouchen Blanc means that it also gives us the opportunity to unpack the sometimes opaque relationship between Crouchen Blanc and the Riesling cultivar, and how they got entangled in South African vernacular.
With regards to the wine in the glass, the Tea Leaf is named as such because of the indigenous strains of rooibos tea plants that grow between the rows of the various vineyard blocks. It is made up of parcels of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Gris, and Crouchen Blanc (formerly known as Cape Riesling) and is one of the most incredibly dynamic and textured white wines that I tasted throughout 2022.
Of course, if you have yet to sign up for your Monthly HanDrinksSolo Wine Subscription then you’ll have to hunt this wine down in your own time. But until then, here are my tasting notes and some technical specs.
👃🏼 The nose carries generous elements of pineapple, yellow apple, white peach fruit, lime zest, oranges, and some flinty, savoury, gravelly notes.
👄 The palate is one gloriously thick and chewy blanket of peach fruit, citrus and tropical fruit…which only get more impressive as the wine warms in the glass. There is also a lovely savoury element, which winemaker JD Roussouw describes as “salted butter” (and I think I could go along with that) which serves to communicate the very real combined richness and salinity of the wine.
A blend of Grenache Gris, Chenin Blanc and Crouchen Blanc, all three vineyards come from relatively high-lying blocks, apparently at over 500m ASL. The parcels are fermented separately using only native yeasts, before the final components are matured on their gross lees, in large oak barrels, for 10 months. Very minimal filtration, which in part explains the gargantuan mouthfeel.
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