10 stellar South African Chenins

The 2017 grape harvest gets under way in South Africa (Photo: Jaco Engelbrecht/visualviticulture.co.za)

The 2017 white grape harvest is now under way in South Africa, with some impressive images, such as the one on the right, emerging of bejewelled rows of Chenin Blanc vines being picked on sunny mornings in Stellenbosch and beyond.

We at db were happy to see such scenes and be reminded of the very high quality of so many South African Chenin Blancs, many of highlighting the country’s impressive old-vine heritage, and the new generation of South Africa’s winemaking talent.

Expectations for the 2017 Chenin harvest are of a smaller than average yield, with the hardy old bush vines handling the particularly dry conditions well.

Head VinPro viticulturist, Francois Viljoen told db: “The 2017 Chenin Blanc harvest is predicted to be smaller than the recorded average. However, producers are expecting it to be bigger than the 2016 vintage.

“Because Chenin is well-suited to the South African climate, the vines seem to be handling the dryer than average conditions better than some other white cultivars. In particular, it is worth mentioning that the Chenin bush vines are looking remarkably good this year.”

We wish all the growers and winemakers well for the harvest and, in the pages that follow, we pick out 10 Chenins which display that special combination of freshness, tension and mellifluous fruit which so many SA winemakers do so well.

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