La Chataigne Fumé Blanc 2017


Price: R135 (as of Feb 2019)
Winery: La Chataigne
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc (wooded)
Wine Region: Franschhoek
Country: South Africa


Quality: 16/20
Value: 4/5
Ponce Factor: Refreshingly low
Occasion: When the thought of another swartland chenin makes you throw up a little bit in your mouth.

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This wine has more layers than a Brian Eno album. A splendidly accessible exploration of the wood Savvy-B genre. In fact, the only thing more accessible than this wine is its price point.
👃🏼 Nose is more open than a San Francisco marriage, with notes of leesy currant bun, vanilla spice, old oak, ripe peach & raw honey.
👄 Palate is choccers with peaches, apricots, savory yeast complications, lovely vanilla & cinnamon on the tail. Perhaps not super indicative of the source fruit, but the secondary elements abound and create a delightfully engaging introduction to the genre.
📝 10mnths in oak.
Right now, you can’t buy it in Cape Town. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go hunting for it in #Franschhoek.

Not everyone wants to live on Easy Street

Wooded Sauvignon Blancs are a little like Radiohead albums; there is nothing “easy drinking” about them. They challenge your senses (and preconceptions) & leave you asking, “Is that oak? Or Unicorn sweat?” You feel lost, and bewildered, like Pamela Anderson in her classic oeuvre; Barbed Wire. But once you’ve white-knuckled it right to final dissonant harmony, and experienced the sensorial symphony for yourself, there is no doubt that you’re way cooler than when you began.
Needless to say, I have never considered the term “easy drinking” to be a compliment for a wine. “Easy drinking” is a few rungs below “interesting” on the compliments ladder. And “interesting” (as any parent will tell you) is what you say to your pre-school spawn when they bring you a picture of what you thought was a porcupine shagging a coconut, but turned out to be “daddy’s new haircut”.
But back to wooded sauvignon blancs…Now it’s more than likely that the Clicks Club mag will be telling you where to find your favourite Swartland Chenin, & your mother-in-law may be continually adding “pinotage rosé” to the family whatsapp grocery list, but wooded Sauvignon Blancs are a category that has been on the rise for the past few years, with local examples earning insane accolades around the world.
The trouble with all these tall horses, however, is that their mind-altering sensory adventures are usually accompanied by tear-inducing price tags…
And this is part of what makes La Chataigne’s Fumé Blanc 2017 such a note-worthy gem. The rand-reward ratio on this little lovely (at R135.00 per bottle) is one of the highest I have encountered in the genre (beating out Hermanuspietersfontein Wines’s Kat met die Houtbeen @R150 and Marianne Wine Estate Wooded SB @R200). This makes it well worth the trip to their winery in Franschhoek.

Wooded Sauvignon Blancs leave you asking… ‘Is that oak? Or is it unicorn sweat?’Han, while drinking solo.

About the Author

Jono Le Feuvre is not a bean counter. He is a bean roaster. Bean roasters carry far more street cred & get to speak at bizarre niche gatherings of enquiring-but-unhinged-minds. They also usually have addictive tendencies. When he is not roasting beans he is pulling corks. Or deftly removing screwcap enclosures. But you can read more about him here.