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Eating my words with a drop of chenin; ANDREW CAMPBELL ON WINE ANDREW CAMPBELL ON WINE.

SOME things are an acquired taste that come to you late in life.

SOME things are an acquired taste that come to you late in life.

I wasn't a fan of tomatoes, olives, marmite or black pudding when younger. There's still no place in my kitchen for the latter but I couldn't imagine life without tomatoes.

I wasn't a fan of tomatoes, olives, marmite or black pudding when younger. There's still no place in my kitchen for the latter but I couldn't imagine life without tomatoes.

White wines made from the chenin blanc grape held a similar place outside my heart for many years - not helped by the poor examples that shaped my early impressions.

White wines made from the chenin blanc grape held a similar place outside my heart for many years - not helped by the poor examples that shaped my early impressions.

But I'm more than happy to eat my words, washed down by a glass of vino, if the quality of the wine warrants a reappraisal. I've even talked (semi) glowingly about a couple of pinot grigios recently!

But I'm more than happy to eat my words, washed down by a glass of vino, if the quality of the wine warrants a reappraisal. I've even talked (semi) glowingly about a couple of pinot grigios recently!

Chenin blanc originates from France's Loire Valley but it's most revered in South Africa - arriving in the Cape in the 1600s and becoming the Springbok's most planted variety. They still churn out plenty of mediocre to poor quality chenin but there's also no shortage of higher quality wines - some at very affordable prices.

Chenin blanc originates from France's Loire Valley but it's most revered in South Africa - arriving in the Cape in the 1600s and becoming the Springbok's most planted variety. They still churn out plenty of mediocre to poor quality chenin but there's also no shortage of higher quality wines - some at very affordable prices.

Last year I reviewed the almost unique Raats Family Chenin Blanc 2009. Costing PS15.99 from Naked Wines, it wowed FIFA big wigs at the 2010 World Cup with its concentrated, bone-dry complexity and butterscotch, citrus and spice flavours. Sadly that vintage is no longer being offered up but it certainly turned my already turning head to chenin blanc's potential.

Last year I reviewed the almost unique Raats Family Chenin Blanc 2009. Costing PS15.99 from Naked Wines, it wowed FIFA big wigs at the 2010 World Cup with its concentrated, bone-dry complexity and butterscotch, citrus and spice flavours. Sadly that vintage is no longer being offered up but it certainly turned my already turning head to chenin blanc's potential.

Enter The FMC which astonishingly only merited an International Wine Challenge (IWC) silver. Made by one of South Africa's top producers, Ken Forrester, his Forrester Meinert Chenin (FMC) isn't cheap but great wines rarely are. Available in specialist shops and online for around PS30, it oozes a concentration rarely seen with aromas and flavours of tangerine, Enter The FMC which astonishingly only merited an International Wine Challenge (IWC) silver. Made by one of South Africa's top producers, Ken Forrester, his Forrester Meinert Chenin (FMC) isn't cheap but great wines rarely are. Available in specialist shops and online for around PS30, it oozes a concentration rarely seen with aromas and flavours of tangerine, pineapple, honey, vanilla and toasted oak. Produced mainly from old bush vine grapes in the Stellenbosch region, it spent 12 months in oak. Some of the grapes were affected by the botrytis fungus, also known as noble rot, that concentrates the grapes and produces some of the world's greatest sweet wines. The FMC isn't sweet but the botrytis influence is unmistakably there. The price-tag is high but no more than the cost of an average champagne.

pineapple, honey, vanilla and toasted oak. Produced mainly from old bush vine grapes in the Stellenbosch region, it spent 12 months in oak. Some of the grapes were affected by the botrytis fungus, also known as noble rot, that concentrates the grapes and produces some of the world's greatest sweet wines. The FMC isn't sweet but the botrytis influence is unmistakably there. The price-tag is high but no more than the cost of an average champagne.

Reduced to a more affordable PS5.49 until July 1, Tesco Finest South African Chenin Blanc 2013 scooped an IWC bronze and it's easy to see why. Made by Origin Wines in the Swartland region it has pleasing honeyed aromas and flavours of apple, pear and hints of tropical fruit.

Reduced to a more affordable PS5.49 until July 1, Tesco Finest South African Chenin Blanc 2013 scooped an IWC bronze and it's easy to see why. Made by Origin Wines in the Swartland region it has pleasing honeyed aromas and flavours of apple, pear and hints of tropical fruit.

There's also a touch of spice and a long finish. It's dry but with a ripe, flavoursome, almost sweet, edge.

There's also a touch of spice and a long finish. It's dry but with a ripe, flavoursome, almost sweet, edge.

Zalze Chenin Blanc Reserve 2012 also gained an IWC bronze and is PS9.99 in Sainsbury. Made by Kleine Zalze in South Africa's Coastal Region it has some complexity and stacks of flavour. Ripe pineapple dominates a good nose which also has aromas of apple, citrus and cream. Honeyed flavours of peach, citrus and cream lead to a bone dry mineral finish.

Zalze Chenin Blanc Reserve 2012 also gained an IWC bronze and is PS9.99 in Sainsbury. Made by Kleine Zalze in South Africa's Coastal Region it has some complexity and stacks of flavour. Ripe pineapple dominates a good nose which also has aromas of apple, citrus and cream. Honeyed flavours of peach, citrus and cream lead to a bone dry mineral finish.

. ? Baron de Ley is a large, quality-conscious Rioja producer . ? Baron de Ley is a large, quality-conscious Rioja producer that's no stranger to the awards podium. They've bagged a shelf-full in recent years for their own wines but they've also been spreading the love to British supermarket own brands.

that's no stranger to the awards podium. They've bagged a shelf-full in recent years for their own wines but they've also been spreading the love to British supermarket own brands.

The Spanish producer was behind Asda's excellent gold medal-winning El Meson Gran Reserva 2001 which is currently reduced to a meagre PS9. Get it while you can.

The Spanish producer was behind Asda's excellent gold medal-winning El Meson Gran Reserva 2001 which is currently reduced to a meagre PS9. Get it while you can.

But guess what? They've been at it again - this time scooping an IWC gold and Great Value Award for Tesco Finest's Vina Mara Gran Reserva 2007. Reduced to PS10.49, it's classic rioja - unmistakably big with bags of flavour yet classy. If you like rioja, you'll like this.

But guess what? They've been at it again - this time scooping an IWC gold and Great Value Award for Tesco Finest's Vina Mara Gran Reserva 2007. Reduced to PS10.49, it's classic rioja - unmistakably big with bags of flavour yet classy. If you like rioja, you'll like this.

The nose is perfumed with vanilla, cream, oak, blackberry, red cherry and berry and spice. The taste is ultra-rich with plenty of acidity and flavours of plum, spice and vanilla.

The nose is perfumed with vanilla, cream, oak, blackberry, red cherry and berry and spice. The taste is ultra-rich with plenty of acidity and flavours of plum, spice and vanilla.

| Finally to Morrisons and its bronze medal winning non-vintage Signature Barossa Shiraz, PS5.99, pictured. I tried this a year earlier and was unimpressed. The latest batch is a more accomplished effort with masses of chocolate, coffee, spice, fresh herbs and dark fruit on the nose. There's plum and black olive flavours and plenty of acidity and grainy tannins.

| Finally to Morrisons and its bronze medal winning non-vintage Signature Barossa Shiraz, PS5.99, pictured. I tried this a year earlier and was unimpressed. The latest batch is a more accomplished effort with masses of chocolate, coffee, spice, fresh herbs and dark fruit on the nose. There's plum and black olive flavours and plenty of acidity and grainy tannins.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Jun 14, 2014
Words:1378
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