2018 Arendsig Inspirational Batch #3 Site Specific Chenin Blanc
I said it before, and I meant it – South Africa is undergoing a revolution in its wines and winemakers. Serious numbers of new winemakers are creating wines of exceptional artistic character, and the government has stepped in to honor them. Vineyard-specific and site-specific wines are now all the rage in South Africa, and it’s time we all jump in to taste. We’ve got two of them for you today: The Arendsig Inspirational Batches 2 and 3.
Although a fifth-generation farmer, Lourens van de Westhuizen is a first-generation winemaker. In 2004, after graduating from viticultural studies, he travelled to none other than Santa Rosa, the hotbed of Pinot Noir production at the time. There, he was able to work in several wineries but also on his own hand-harvested, small-lot production. Further experiences in Burgundy and Champagne followed. In essence, the way I read his resume, he managed to score amazing experiences in wineries that were all about terroir.
When he returned home, Dad let him make it a challenge – take some of the best small-lot sections from the family farm, turn them into wine, and try and make a go of it. And, on the far slopes of the family farm with derelict vineyards planted into rock soils, Lourens could use these plots as well.
The result was the birth of Arendsig Handcrafted wines. From those very small beginnings, we have a chance to taste the top of his work – the “Inspirational” batches. The fruit he farms is so interesting that it inspires his work. And if it inspires a winemaker, you know I just have to try it myself!
Batch #2 is Grenache made completely in concrete tank, emphasizing its freshness and delicacy. Yes, I said delicacy with regards to Grenache. Grenache is low-tannin and low-acidity, but that doesn’t mean that it’s got to be a hot mess. And this one isn’t. A beautiful perfume of violets, ripe plums and red cherries springs from the nose, ever so lively and inviting. The palate is juicy, and fleshy, full of life and a joy to drink. Yes, there is good fruit character in there, but it’s also fine balanced, with an engaging complexity.
Batch #3 is Chenin Blanc, the king grape of South Africa. And it is gorgeous – the nose opens with a beautiful baking-spice element that is just the pure fruit itself – there is no oak on the wine. This has fantastic minerality throughout the palate, and brilliant focus. Chenin, when it’s this good, can get an ambrosial texture that fuses its gorgeous stone fruit notes with its lively acidity. Here it is perfectly merged, creating a lush and smooth wine of wonderful fruit character. It’s as vivid as it enchanting.
Good wine is where you find it. And right now, South Africa is a treasure trove.
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