Taste the heritage of South Africa
Waterford Old Vine Project Chenin blanc
Thursday - 15 June 2023
Crafted from vineyards planted in 1966 this wine is not only packed full of flavour, it is packed with history.
Chenin blanc came to South Africa as one of the first varieties planted in the country in the mid1600s under the name Steen. This led to much confusion amongst the wine industry as no one
could confirm if Chenin blanc was in fact the Steen varietal, until 1963, where the Head of
Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, Professor C.J Orffer, matched Steen and Chenin blanc
leaves and finally pronounced Steen, Chenin blanc.
Chenin blanc has a long-standing history in South Africa and has formed the backbone of our wine
industry and our brandy industry.
The wine's aromas are white pear and pithy grapefruit, followed by elements of peach pip, light
honeycomb and soft floral notes. The mouthfeel is layered and smooth but holds a tremendous
amount of mineral flavour and depth. The concrete egg fermentation drives purity and minerality
which creates a lovely fresh and soft “sweet fruit” finish on the palate.
The grapes are harvested from a vineyard planted back in 1966, this is important as older
vineyards create higher-quality grapes while producing a smaller yield. The vineyard is based in
the Botelary area in Stellenbosch, a popular area to grow the varietal as the conditions lean
perfectly into creating the truly unique South African style of the wine.
With the vineyard’s age it is a registered and protected heritage vine and falls into the Old Vine
Project. The Old Vine Project was created as a means to encourage vineyards to want to age
their vines, when a vine is young it creates a lot of grapes and a lot of bunches and along with
this increased yield the quality isn’t anything to write home about. Older vines on the other hand,
have had the time to grow their roots deep into the soil gathering minerals and nutrients from
the lower layers of the soil profile, this improvement in the quality of nutrients allows the vine to
produce higher quality, more concentrated grapes.
In the cellar we don’t let the wine touch a single stainless steel tank or a single oak barrel, we
utilise concrete eggs for the fermentation and maturation process. The concrete eggs are a
neutral material, offering no vessel influence on the wine, therefore you are tasting exactly what
the Chenin blanc tastes like without masking any of its notable quality. The material is also very
porous which allows air to interact with the wine thus fully developing the flavour profiles and
aroma profiles. The egg shape is also important as it allows the wine to constantly circulate
around the vessel thus sturring up the yeast cells and creating the brioche quality that is so
noticeable in the wine.
South Africa grows more Chenin blanc than the entire world combined grows.
Platter’s Wine Guide 2023 – 4.5 Stars
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