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South Africa grows a lot of Chenin Blanc, also known as Steen, partly to be distilled for brandy and spirits and partly for what have been 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 are proponents of organic viticulture and biodynamic wine-making, which basically means as little intervention as possible, whole bunch pressing, 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 old low-yielding vines from adjacent vineyards (that are part of Reyneke's Old Vine Project) and the terroir.
This wine is lovely and golden in colour. It has great complexity on the nose and palate including intense aromas of honeycomb, lime, lemon thyme, ripe greengages, ripe apples, pear, pineapple and apricot plus, a particular characteristic of Chenin Blanc, damp straw - and a saline 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!
94 points Tim Atkin MW
4 1/2 points Platter's Guide