Did you know that Chenin Blanc is believed to be one of the first wine cultivars brought to South Africa in 1655? That means its history in SA is 366 years long. The footprint of SA Chenin has adapted over the centuries and has, without doubt, stood the test of time.
It is surprising to hear that before 1963 it was unknown that Chenin existed in SA. This cultivar with massive planting because of brandy production was originally known as Steen, which you still see in SA. In 1963, the then Head of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, Professor C.J Orffer, finally matched SA’s Steen to Chenin Blanc. Around this time there was also a massive global awareness of SA wines from a wine called Lieberstein, a Chenin blend, which became the best-selling brand in the world.
As with most things, time brings change with adapting global tastes and consumption of brandy, so there was a significant drop in demand for Chenin. The recommendations started to pull out Chenin and plant to meet market demand. Luckily there were a few wine farmers and estates that couldn’t bring themselves to destroy these parcels of history.
The Chenin Blanc association was formed, with Ken Forrester as one of the founding members, to raise support and awareness of Chenin. The latest initiative is the Summer of Chenin, to encourage greater access to Chenin through restaurants and for wine drinkers to think of Chenin when sharing good times and pairing with meals.
Ken Forrester offers a wide range of Chenin to perfectly match any moment, starting with the easy-drinking, fruit-forward Petit Chenin, or for those with a sweeter tooth the Petit Natural Sweet. The Petit range is the perfect go-to wine range to have on hand.
For something with skilful wooding, Ken Forrester has four wines on offer. The Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc, as the name suggests, showcases the history the Stellenbosch estate has to offer. This was made with a combination of barrels and tank fermentation with extended lees contact resulting in a full and rounded wine with melon and spicy baked apples, effortlessly pairing with spicy full flavoured fish and chicken dishes.
The FMC is a wine with personality, something unique, even slightly off the wall. Primarily from bush vines planted in 1974, fermented from natural yeasts in 400l French Oak barrels and aged for up to 12 months. The wine goes through careful selection for the final assemblage. The result is structure showing minerality, complexity, as well as concentration and balance. This is ideal as an aperitif shared with great company or paired with decadent and rich seafood such as lobster and langoustine.
Ken Forrester also has two wines from other regions, showcasing both the variety of Chenin and his winemaking skill. First, there is Terre Noire 2020, naturally fermented in French oak from the Swartland. This is a full-flavoured Chenin with soft, gentle white peach and melon flavours and a long finish. A beautifully textured wine to be enjoyed with seafood or prawns infused with lime and chilli. Then there is Dirty Little Secret Two, from an ancient dryland vineyard in Piekenierskloof planted in 1965. The objective was to allow the unique lands and vines to speak for themselves. The wine captures the concentration from these old vines, gently made and unfiltered, with only 7 barrels produced. The wine has a tight, bright mineral character with a mouthfeel and soft acidity that balances the pear drop intensity.
To round out the Chenin offering, there is Sparklehorse Cap Classique, a unique bubbly that will effortlessly elevate any moment to a celebration and the T Noble Late Harvest, which will be the showstopper to end a perfect meal.
As you can see Ken Forrester has a wine for any and all occasions making your Summer of Chenin an easy celebration to achieve.