South Africa grows an awful lot of Chenin Blanc, also known as Steen, partly to be distilled for brandy and spirits and partly for what have been generally rather bland, off-dry, commercial wines. But changes are afoot, especially at top producers in Stellenbosch like Reyneke. Even Wines of South Africa acknowledge there is an improvement, "growers are raising the standard to new levels."
Reyneke, nominated as New World Winery of the Year in the Wine Enthusiast’s 2013 Wine Star Awards, are proponents of organic viticulture and biodynamic wine-making (certified bio-dynamic since 2006), which basically means as little intervention as possible, no artificial additives, no commercially cultivated yeast or bacteria, no acid adjustments or fermentation aids; the result in this instance is a complex Chenin Blanc, expressing the characteristics of the grape, the 60 year old low-yielding vines from a single vineyard and the terroir.
This wine is lovely and golden in colour. Like the 2014 vintage it has great complexity on the nose and palate including intense aromas of honey, lime, ripe greengages, green apples, pear, pineapple and apricot plus, a particular characteristic of Chenin Blanc, damp straw - plus vibrancy due to its youth. What always amazes me most about this wine is its creamy texture and the fact that it manages to combine the creaminess with a zesty minerality. I have classified it as Aromatic given the beautiful aromas but it could easily fall into the Crisp Light Whites category. This wine can be enjoyed now but will keep for a few years; it is a wine of substance with a lovely long finish and will gain further depth as it develops over the next couple of years - if you can keep it that long!
This wine is featured on the wine list of Hakkasan, Hanway Place.
Drink on its own or with a range of foods including seafood generally, scallops in particular, fish including fish ceviche or tartare, sushi, smoked salmon, smoked trout, dishes e.g. salads with fruit, turkey with cranbery sauce, pork with apple sauce, avocado, asparagus, peas, goats cheese and mild cheeses, cooked egg dishes such as quiches and omelettes, dishes with a creamy sauce and chicken
"This wine presents a bright straw hue with a lovely bouquet of fresh mandarins and kumquat followed through by floral notes and honey comb undertones. The palate has a beautiful freshness with a tight linear structure. Layers of citrus fruit, washed stone and spice carries through to a long aromatic finish. This wine will drink best over the next two to six years."
93 points Tim Atkins 2016 South African Report
93 points RobertParker.com Apr 2017
"The 2015 Chenin Blanc offers attractive scents of honeysuckle, lemon thyme and cold stone scents on the nose that takes a couple of minutes to really get going. However, there is clearly very fine delineation here. The palate is fresh and crisp on the entry, that slightly waxy texture lining the mouth and complementing the lemongrass and (again) lemon thyme notes. I appreciate the energy and tension here, whilst the salinity on the aftertaste leaves the senses utterly refreshed."
92 points Wine Spectator Feb 2017
"A ripe, well-built version, with a large core of yellow apple, white peach and melon flavors carried by well-embedded acidity. The finish picks up lilting honeysuckle and verbena accents, showing just a subtle hint of toast at the very end."