Worldwide, Chenin Blanc is revered as a noble grape variety, yet in South Africa, Chenin is the Cinderella grape.
Like capable Cinders, can-do Chenin, does from brandy to blends to bubblies. For her versatility, she is overlooked as the poor man’s Riesling by local prince, Consumer-charming, in favour of her fashionable sisters acid-tempered Sauvignon and wood-face Chardonnay.
More’s the pity, for as the two “ugly” sisters swan about at great expense on our wine shop and supermarket shelves, case upon case of world-class South African Chenin is snapped up abroad, grabbed by good value gurus who know a great wine when they taste it.
Chenin Blanc arrived in South Africa with Oom Jan (van Riebeeck) and has been growing patiently in the wings ever since.
Able to flourish in a variety of climates and conditions, Cinderella Chenin, far from fainting with heat-stroke like her 2 cool-climate sisters, is gaining consistency as global temperatures rise.
Chenin has the high levels of acidity necessary for wine to age well, and to pair perfectly with food, yet by sometimes being too sweet for her own good, she puts off serious wine lovers.
So what, you’re asking, is the point of all this cryptic, fairytale-laced prose?
Well, like all good fairytales, the ending for Cinderella Chenin, and more importantly for local and visiting wine lovers, is a happy one.
Across the Cape winelands, from the Swartland to Bot River, viniferous godmothers have been waving their wands in the vineyard and the cellar, and conjuring up some astonishingly good Chenins.
And because fashionista wine drinkers are only focused on the Kardashian sisters of wine, Cinderella Chenins (wooded and unwooded) from the likes of Ken Forrester, Avondale, Good Hope, Diemersfontein, Beaumont, and Cederberg, are up for grabs at ridiculously good prices.
Drink them now…while you can.
Postscript: Douglas Green Vineyard Creations Chenin Blanc 2010, winner of gold medals at the Concours de Mondial de Bruxelles in 2008 and 2009, and commendations from Decanter World Wine Awards and International Wine Challenge, has been named the winner of local wine magazine, WINE’s Chenin Blanc Challenge 2011. Retail price: a mere R32 per bottle. I rest my case.