2014 Nederburg Foundation Chenin Blanc
If you like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you will like South African Steen.
Let me explain: I don’t want to chill the world’s amour of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; I am merely reinforcing what Squeeze suggested decades ago – that a fling with another fruit might be kinda fun.
To tempt you: Nederburg’s Steen leaps from the glass with the fragrance of pineapple, Cara Cara oranges, pomelos and citronella blossoms. On the palate it’s tangy and soft, as easy-drinking as it is fun. It glides into your tummy, leaving a whispered kiss of honey flavor on the palate, rubbing you like a smiling Buddha for a job well done.
Again, if you like Sauvignon Blanc, Steen’s gonna love you just as much!
Steen is the Afrikaans name for Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc used to be a big deal in America, as well as in France and South Africa. It used to be as ubiquitous as Chardonnay, or (dare I say it) as common as a Sauvignon Blanc patio pounder.
But that is all old history. Really old history – about 150 years old. Nowadays, not many people drink Steen / Chenin Blanc.
And why does this matter? In winemaking, just because popularity sways to another grape or another part of the world doesn’t mean that the vineyard goes away. And South Africa is tremendously rich with old vine Steen. REALLY old vine Steen.
The thought is that old vines work harder, delivering richer, tastier, more magnificent wines. These 100-year-old South African vineyards contribute complexity, a lush fruity richness on the palate and the lingering finish I mentioned above.
But there is another reason this all matters: the wine is cheap. REALLY cheap. Cheap no matter how you want to phrase it: inexpensive, a value, great quality-to-price ratio (QPR). It’s cheap because vineyards are not like vending machines spitting out a bottle of Coke. Vineyards will produce grapes every year. Farmers either do something with them or take a loss. In the case of Nederburg, and most of South Africa in general, the vineyards are massively large, very old and long since paid for. In other words, make it or lose it. Finally, supply is abundant and demand is low. This equation adds up to really cheap wine – yet really amazing wine as well.
I described Nederburg’s Old Vine Steen above, so here is my close: as you drink the bottle (as I am now), aromas of peach, nectarine, papaya and gooseberry tantalize the tongue. The kiss of honey broadens the wine to a lush sensibility, a pleasurably wholesome curvaceousness. It is the taste of charm – the dimple on a smiling cheek, a simple sense of happiness that enlivens the world: this is Nederburg Old Vine Steen.
I know, the price is “scary-low” – but trust me (after all, this is why I make the big bucks) – uncovering hidden treasures is my job!