Standout Chenin Blanc: The Winery of Good Hope & Land of Hope, South Africa

I wrote up highlights from themed tables at Wines of South Africa’s Cape Wine Europe trade tasting  here last week.  At the Chenin Blanc table, The Winery of Good Hope’s Radford Dale Renaissance Chenin Blanc 2010 was my pick of the bunch.

It’s not the only great Chenin The Winery of Good Hope (TWGH) make – I was really impressed with their feel for the variety across the range.  Check out my notes below, which include wines from their Land of Hope label, the direct beneficiaries of whom are the previously disadvantaged employees of TWGH and their children and dependents.

Incidentally, the bright and crunchy Radford Dale Freedom Pinot Noir 2010 and Land of Hope Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 were among my Pinot highlights of the tasting too.  Alex Dale reckons that, with increased vine age, there’s been a big difference in fruit quality in the last two years.

The Winery of Good Hope Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2011 (Stellenbosch)

Just bottled a week previously having been aged for 6 months on gross lees, this shows impressive fruit brightness to its honey-licked fresh apple and pear fruit.  It’s got a lovely unworked quality to it.  Very balanced.

Vinum Chenin Blanc 2010 (Stellenbosch)

The fruit for this wine hails from old bush vines located in the foothills of the Helderberg Mountain, on South & South-Easterly slopes facing the ocean. Around 20% was fermented and aged in barrels (an equal mix of new, 2nd, 3rd & 4th fill) and the whole was aged on the lees for 12 months with occasional batonnage.    It’s soft, ripe and round with attractive, juicy white orchard fruits, blossom and honey, the oak worn very lightly.  With its gently rolling palate, it’s what I call a backfoot wine – doesn’t come at you all assertive with fruit and oak – very much seems to be the direction in which premium modern South African Chenin is going.  Well done.

Radford Dale Renaissance Chenin Blanc 2010 (Stellenbosch)

This is TWGH’s flagship label and is fermented and aged in Burgundy barrels, under 20% new.  Because it’s sourced from a single block of old, un-irrigated bush vine located on the Helderberg’s cooler, higher slopes, also the fruit is picked a little earlier, the Renaissance Chenin is wonderfully animated, mineral too. Crisp and fresh with a vibrant core of quince and apple.  Lovely purity and persistence to its subtly honeyed finish.  A clear-eyed beauty.

Land of Hope Chenin Blanc 2011 (Stellenbosch)

Seemingly a more oxidative in style than The Winery of Good Hope Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2011, it has a deep yellow hue with a textured palate which shows bruised apple and steely apple core fruit, a touch earthy even.  Lots of character – well differentiated from TWGH label though it shares that unworked quality.  Good food wine.

Land of Hope Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010 (Stellenbosch)

Like the entry level Land of Hope Chenin, the Reserve has an attractive rustic edge and, looking at the website, the previous vintages of both had an element of whole bunch ferment, which makes sense of their textured palates.  The fruit here is more vibrant – quite possibly a vintage trait – all crunchy green apple and steely grapefruit.  Good length and structure.  A guiless quality.  Very good.

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