There comes a crossroads in every wine-grape harvest where no matter what happened early in the season, Mother Nature takes the wheel and steers the car either down a smooth road or a rocky one. In South Africa this year, she’s been a good driver, bringing excellent conditions for the harvest of the grapes that will become our next protea Chenin Blanc.
Remember, South Africa is at the other end of the world – so while North Americans are either still shoveling snow or, at best, glimpsing the first hints of spring, it’s a whole other story down around latitude 34 degrees South.
This is the place where Chenin Blanc found a home way back in 1655 and over the centuries became a signature grape. But even with all that history, the 21st century wine industry is young and dynamic, and every year brings new insight into turning the classic grape into compelling, modern wines – and an exciting new crop to work with.
At protea, we rely on older bush vines (as seen in the photo at top) and other carefully tended and selected vineyard sources to give us concentrated fruit that delivers depth and lovely aromatics, like pear, citrus and honeysuckle. Just as importantly, we aim to pick the fruit while it still has the acidity that ensures crisp refreshment. We think this showed through nicely with our 2014 Chenin:
So in our view, that’s the best kind of vintage, one with a window of opportunity to hit the combination just right. According to the trade group Wines of South Africa, we’re not the only ones who have a good feeling about 2015. WOSA reports that many growers are seeing a smaller-than-normal crop, but as can often be the case, that’s translating into excellent quality. And several growers have commented on how clean, fresh and healthy the Chenin fruit has been.
South Africa is a fortuitous place for winegrowing, to be sure, but as WOSA concluded in a recent harvest update, “All winemakers in the Western Cape should thank their lucky stars for conditions here any year and especially, it seems, this year.”
Learn more about Chenin Blanc by clicking on these links: