#316 Vine Venom Silence Chenin Blanc (flor-aged)


🔬 Wine of Origin Swartland. 100% Chenin Blanc. Fruit is sourced from Waterval Farm, in the Paardeberg ward of the Swartland. Trellissed vines are farmed by Francziska Wickens, & fruit is harvested at 21.5-balling; at roughly the same ripeness as fruit destined for PetNat wines. In the Vine Venom cellar, a three-tiered solera system is currently in operation. This bottling contains flor-aged chenin blanc in equal parts from vintages 2020, 2021 and 2022. The 2023 vintage is barrel-fermented, allowed to go fully through malolactic conversion, and is matured separately for ten months before being used to top up the solera barrels after the most recent bottling was removed.


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Out of the Frying pan and into the Fire

When Vine Venom winemaker Samantha Suddons first began conceiving her SILENCE Chenin Blanc, she had been inspired by the biologically-aged Sherry wines of Jerez, and so set about producing a Swartland rendition, produced with organically farmed Chenin Blanc grapes along with a three-tier solera system established in the heart of the Swartland’s Paardeberg ward.
But as the project developed, it occurred to her that perhaps she could avoid fortification entirely, and instead pursue a style of winemaking more closely matched to the Vin Jaunes of the Jura in Eastern France. These wines, usually made from Chardonnay or Savagnin, and often made both oxidatively and also matured under flor, delivery some wildly divisive flavour profiles that can boast notes of green olives, chamomile tea, apples, sourdough bread and roasted onions. What a party, right? Well, not everyone thinks so.
Samantha’s SILENCE bottling obviously trades out Chardonnay in favour of Chenin Blanc, and her fairly considered style of winemaking prevented anything from getting too crazy, but the end result is an enormously engaging and decidedly distinct Swartland expression that manages to appeal to both natty wine geeks and more mainstream wine cognoscenti equally.
Now 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 to see what I’m talking about. But until then, here are my tasting notes and some technical specs to further pique your interest.


👃🏼 A huge open complex nose of stewed yellow apples, ripe bosc pear, pickled ginger, cinnamon, and some leesy sourdough.
👄 On the palate there the sweeter yellow apple and pear elements sit right up against tarter apricot notes. But it’s certainly far from being all primary. there is a delightfully creamy texture to the wine, which has an ever so subtle butter toffee touch to it. Of course, all those sedate-sounding notes are completely upended by the lovely ginger and cinnamon spice which weaves through it all.
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