RKS 2023 Wine: South African Chenin Blanc: A Signature Grape/Wine?

In today’s wine world can one properly speak of a signature wine or grape? Given most wine producing countries produce a variety of wines how can you select a signature grape? By volume produced? By sales? By quality? By exports? The categories are many and varied and who can agree on them? At best one might try and identify a signature wine within an appellation or viticultural area. But even then is there any point in trying to identify a signature wine? Perhaps we might want to say a “notable wine”?

South Africa has several notable wines one such white wine being Chenin Blanc. I recently attended masterclass on South African wines in Toronto given by Christopher Waters. One comment that caught my attention is that a certain producer of Chenin Blanc in South Africa sells a limited quantity of “premium” Chenin Blanc for several hundred dollars a bottle and even if you are on “the list” there is no guarantee you’ll receive a bottle of the coveted Chenin Blanc.

South Africa is the 8th largest wine producer, 6th in export values and 19th for wine consumption. The percentage of vineyards growing white gapes is led by Chenin Blanc. In Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc is second to Sauvignon Blanc in terms of acreage.

In this case at $15.95 there is no waiting list for the Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc. There is a huge supply in the pipeline now in Ontario.

Aromas: Pineapple, mango, guava and tangerine.

Palate: Definite underlying acidity but not to the degree it threatens the wine. Pineapple upside down cake, South African tangerine, Granny Smith apple with some grapefruit and a bit of brackishness in the finish which extends its length.

Cellaring: Will not improve. Consume by the end of 2024.

Personality: With my acidity you might say I am a bit high strung. I am a bit salty. With the salt and acidity I urge you to drink me with food.

Price: $15.95 (Ontario).

Food Match: Grilled sardines with a lemon, olive oil and oregano sauce with Swiss Chard and crispy bread as a side.

In a nutshell: Signature Chenin Blanc pineapple aroma. Its acidity and brackishness a good accompaniment to white fleshed ocean fish. Might do well with a roasted chicken with lemon and potatoes Greek style. Not a particularly good sipper.

RKS 2023 Wine Rating: 87/100. Wine Spectator Rating 90/100.

(Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2021, Rustenberg Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 698274, 12.5%)

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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