JUST THE FACTS
Price: R190 (as of Dec 2016)
Winery: Slanghoek Cellars
Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Wine Region: Breedekloof Valley
Country: South Africa
Ponce Factor: A quantum of ponce
Occasion: On a date with a lumberjack
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Legs like a Serbian miner. After a good swirl, my glass looks like a windscreen in a monsoon.
Vanguard aromas carry enjoyable apple, butter, stone fruit, and vanilla.
On the palate, mouthfeel is delightfully full, but the 100% first-fill 225 litre oak barrels deliver a dominant oak hit, which sees oaky vanilla upfront, while fruit elements merely form supporting co-counsel.
Considering the lengthy 16 months on its lees, the yeast elements are relatively subdued, but still add pleasant complexity.
The wood, the rad, and the uh, lees.
THREE things to note about this wine:
1. The wood:
Senior winemaker Nico Grundling uses all new 225 litre oak barrels when making this wine.
Now at the party end of 2016, new oak barrels are about as fashionable as Nick Slaughter’s hair in Tropical Heat. But if you’ve met Nico, you also know that he cares about “wine fashion” as much as David Hasselhoff cares about his liver. Which is why, if you’re on a date with a lumberjack, this is the wine for you. Vanilla notes and oak spice for days.
2. The rad
One might be tempted to say, “I hate new oak. It’s so crass. How I pine (3rd-fill pine) for the fjords of the Swartland.”
But before you nail your colours to the used-oak mast, it may be worth noting that this wine won BEST WOODED CHENIN at the 2016 SA Young Winemakers Show. So while it may not très hip amongst some fraternities, there are still enough critics out there to recognise that sporting wood has its moments.
3. The Lees
This wine was supposed to be bottled in January 2016. This would have given it a generous 9 months on its lees.
But as it turned out, things got busy at Slanghoek cellars and the bottling was delayed. Then harvest time came around, and life got more hectic than a bath full of triplet toddlers. And still the wine sat on its lees…
It wasn’t until July that bottling finally went ahead, finishing with a mammoth 16-month lees fest, which, given its recent accolades, seems not to have hurt the wine too much.
Which goes to show that sometimes winemaking is Science. Sometimes it is Art. And sometimes its that free period before maths, where you can catch a quick nap and everything still turns out okay.
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.