JUST THE FACTS
Price: R165.00 (as of Jan 2017)
Winery: Opstal Wine Estate
Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Wine region: Breedekloof Valley
Country: South Africa
Ponce factor: Moderate high
Occasion: On a date with a foreigner
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A good Chenin is a little like Captain Planet. It only exists when “as their powers combine”, lees, oak, and fruit combine to form something almost as magnificent as a blue mid-nineties mullet-wearing leotarded superhero.
Tasting notes: Lovely fruit aromas of peaches, a touch of pear, and the ever so subtle lees note. On the palate, there is some cool honey sweetness, more peach fruit, and some gentle baking spice.
Lovely stone fruit holds it all together quite nicely.
A dinner debate about perfection and distinction
There is no doubt that the Opstal Estate Carl Everson Chenin Blanc is a superb wine. The Platter team awarded it the coveted 5-star tag, and Tim Atkins gave it 90 points. Formiddable Accolades.
And there is no doubt that It is supremely balanced, where old oak, a decent vay-kay on its lees, and wonderfully chosen fruit, all combine to make sure that no particular element pokes out conspicuously above the rest. A sensory tall poppy, if you will. But for all this…does that make is memorable?
My proposal is that there are more exciting things in life than balance. What if balance is NOT the ultimate good. Can a quirky element of “cray-cray” replace the highly prized “balance”.
Imagine if Muse had no Matt Bellamy? Imagine if The Police had no Sting. And no Justin in *nSync? The results would all have been hugely mediocre. The very fact that there was one element that stood out further than the rest is what makes these outfits successful in the first place. All far more exciting than a perfectly harmonious barbershop quartet from Skokey, Illinois.
I’ll be in the back with the freaks.
So where am I going with this?
Well, I had the good fortune of drinking the Carl Everson Chenin Blanc 2014 right alongside the internationally lauded Carl Everson Chenin Blanc 2015. And while the 2015 was delightful, it was also just very…cheniny.
The 2014, in contrast, was a rather large meaty lees fest. Unlike anything else in the lineup (we tasted five chenins that day). The sweet honey and pineapple fruit faded quite quickly and left in their place a gargantuan yeasty “British bake-off”-style yeasty brouhaha. The caboose was weighty, and the mouthfeel was drier than a brioche in the badlands. Marvellous!
Could I have drunk the entire bottle? Perhaps not.
Would I serve it at a kitchen tea? Unlikely.
Did it teach me something about winemaking? Absolutely.
Did it distill in my mind some of the elements I love most in a Chenin? Most certainly.
And most importantly:
Will I go out hunting for more? Indubitably.