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Home Winners > Winners 2017 > NEW WORLD: Chenin Blanc

Winner Details

New World: Chenin Blanc

2017 Gold: 2 Silver: 7 Bronze: 5 Commended: 8
2016 Gold: 2 Silver: 5 Bronze: 3 Commended: 5

 South Africa utterly dominates this category – to the extent where we are half reconsidering renaming it Steen – the Afrikaans word for the variety. Ach, who are we kidding? It’s a horrible name… we wouldn’t do that to you. But South Africa’s utter domination of this section is very real.

Go back five or six years in the Sommelier Wine Awards and we’d get the occasional medal for a Chilean or Kiwi with this grape, but now the Saffers have just brushed all contenders aside in a giant tsunami of beautifully ripe Chenin.

It was surprising that our teams didn’t pick out any of the (many) sub-£10 bottles on display here (there are some great wines for the money) but the pricing here still really isn’t outrageous. Moreover, there seems to be some genuine affection for the more expensive wines, too: a winning combination of richness, ripeness, expensive oak and good natural acidity.

For people who like the bigger styles of New World Chardonnay but can either no longer find them or no longer afford them, this category represents a really good option.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘It was very positive – a very good flight. It was the most consistent flight so far. There were some different styles – people playing with fresher and more reductive wines through to bigger, richer styles. But we found medals throughout. There were valid styles at every price point.’ Hamish Anderson, Tate Catering

‘It was very different from what you would get in the Loire. More tropical, but still approachable. The cheap ones don’t necessarily need food, the more expensive ones were big but really well integrated.’ Sam Caporn MW, team leader

‘At £11-£14 we got more flavour, texture and typicity, but I was expecting some good cheaper versions.’ Sara Bachiorri, Chez Bruce
‘I don’t like Chenin usually, but I totally loved the most expensive wines here. They were rich, dry and complex – great wines for all occasions.’ Andrea Cotichella, Wernher Restaurant at Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa

‘Chenin is very price based. They totally got better and better as they went through the flight.’ Sue Jones, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn
‘I prefer the drier, fresher style. It’s not just a price thing – that style is easier to sell, especially with summer coming.’ Masahito Suzuki, Sosharu

‘With the oaked wines we had to pay a lot before we got ones that we liked, and I was expecting something better at the lower end.’ Tom Forrest, team leader

‘They were at good price points, and with a nice mix of styles. The more complex ones were not overwhelming. They still had freshness. They would work with more complex dishes, like creamy sauces or maybe spicy food – Moorish cuisine.’ Mattia Mazzi, Lutyens

 

Award winners

Found 22 wines

New World: Chenin Blanc

Spier, 21 Gables, Chenin Blanc 2015, Tygerberg, South Africa

Gold medal winner

A clear Gold candidate for our judges, this showed ‘mango and papaya fruit, with toasty and creamy richness’, according to Agustin Trapero of Avenue Restaurant, while Tate Catering’s Hamish Anderson found ‘big oak drive on the nose, and a textured palate with lots of layers, pineapple, spice, lovely fruit. Great stuff!’ Frances Bentley of Individual Restaurants described ‘rich buttered toast and sweet white fruit – balanced finesse and concentration, and a match for roast chicken’.

£16.39 Bibendum

Stellenrust, 51, Barrel Fermented, Chenin Blanc 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Gold medal winner

Heaped with praise by our judges, this Chenin took home not only the Gold, but a Food Match trophy, too. ‘Complex and aromatic, fresh with ripe fruit on the nose, rich, long and round,’ began Andrea Cotichella of Wernher Restaurant at Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa, with team leader Laura Rhys MS adding: ‘Rich, ripe, opulent fruit, good weight and an intense, vibrant palate.’ One for sole meunière thought fellow team leader Sam Caporn MW.

£12.90 Bibendum

Nederburg, The Anchorman, Chenin Blanc 2016, Western Cape, South Africa

Silver medal winner

Mattin Larraburu of Sexy Fish found this ‘rich and balanced’, commenting on its ‘good weight and body, chewy texture but fresh, minty, vibrant and lively character’. ‘Floral, more complex nose, powerful with lively lime zest,’ added Daniele Di Blasio of Pollen Street Social.

£11.58 Matthew Clark

Simonsig, Chenin Avec Chêne 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Silver medal winner

‘Apricot fruit and stony mineral’ stood out on the palate for Masahito Suzuki of Sosharu, ‘with a touch of bitterness’, while Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn highlighted its ‘guava and pineapple richness with a vegetal note’. ‘Vibrant and complex,’ added team leader Laura Rhys MS.

£11.35 Alexander Wines, C&O Wines, The General Wine Company

DGB, Boschendal, Sommelier Selection, Chenin Blanc 2016, Coastal Region, South Africa

Silver medal winner

Andrea Cotichella of Wernher Restaurant at Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa was pleased with this wine’s ‘fruity, intense, quite complex nose and rich, rounded palate’, while team leader Laura Rhys MS found ‘richness, weight and texture with tons of tropical fruit’.

£7.25 DGB EUROPE

Donovan Rall, The Tea Leaf, Chenin Blanc 2015, Piekenierskloof, Western Cape, South Africa

Silver medal winner

With its ‘nutty and restrained’ aromas leading to an ‘elegant and complex wine’, Mattia Mazzi of Lutyens found this ‘intense, with fine minerality and salinity’, while Tate Catering’s Hamish Anderson highlighted its ‘big, broad style, butter and honey with a gentle spritz’.

£9.20 Boutinot

Mooiplaas, Chenin Blanc 2016, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Silver medal winner

Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn pointed out an unusual combination of ‘earthiness and tinned fruit character, but balanced on the palate’, while team leader Laura Rhys MS highlighted its ‘full, fruity style, low acidity and an almost botrytis note to its richness’.

£9.03 Mooiplaas Wine Estate

Ken Forrester, The FMC, Chenin Blanc 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Silver medal winner

‘Oak, toasted and honeyed on the nose, generous and round, concentrated with an oily texture,’ began Sara Bachiorri of Chez Bruce, continuing: ‘Peaches, melon and honey on the palate, dry and mineral on the finish with the fruit lingering. Well made, with ageing potential for up to five years.’

£19.30 Enotria&Coe

Ken Forrester, Reserve, Chenin Blanc 2016, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Silver medal winner

Agustin Trapero of Avenue found ‘apple skins and a little sourness in the aromatics’ and a palate that was ‘well balanced, round and long with some almondy nut flavours’. ‘Very subtle, pretty, easy drinking with a hint of spice,’ added team leader Sam Caporn MW.

£8.80 Enotria&Coe

Jordan, Inspector Péringuey, Chenin Blanc 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

Tate Catering’s Hamish Anderson was very taken by its ‘lovely nose with a hint of reduction and tropical fruit’, also finding ‘honey, mango and good texture on the palate, good acidity with a lingering warmth’, concluding: ‘Needs food, but all in all, lovely.’

£8.48 Alexander Wines, H2Vin

Kleine Zalze, Family Reserve, Chenin Blanc 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

‘Very much in the savoury camp, long with ripe phenolic grip,’ began Tate Catering’s Hamish Anderson, with team leader Sam Caporn MW finding it ‘interesting and layered, with restrained aromas, some spice and green notes, a touch of pyrazine’.

£12.84 Hatch Mansfield

Imbuko, Healy & Gray, Private Cellar, Bushvine, Chenin Blanc 2016, Western Cape, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

‘Light and fresh with peach and pineapple. Pretty, easy drinking and commercial in style,’ said team leader Sam Caporn MW. ‘Crisp and simple, floral, round and honeyed,’ added Mattia Mazzi of Lutyens.

£5.99 LWC Drinks Ltd (Merchant and Shippers)

Ernst Gouws & Co, Chenin Blanc 2016, Western Cape, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn enjoyed this wine’s open, fruity style, with its ‘lemony, meringue nose and lemon curd palate with freshness and good acidity’, while team leader Laura Rhys MS picked up on its ‘bright, crisp character, good balance and creamy texture’.

£8.52 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Swartland Winery, Bush Vine, Chenin Blanc 2015, Swartland, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

‘Peach, lime and red apple on the nose, with honeyed notes on the palate and a dry, long finish,’ said Yauatcha’s Kelvin McCabe, with team leader Tom Forrest adding: ‘Soft vanilla spice with lemon notes on the finish.’

£11.20 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Neethlingshof, Chenin Blanc 2016, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Kleine Zalze, Vineyard Selection, Chenin Blanc 2016, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Kleine Zalze, Cellar Selection, Chenin Blanc 2016, Coastal Region, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Perdeberg, Dry Land Collection, Barrel Fermented, Chenin Blanc 2015, Paarl , South Africa

Commended medal winner

£9.11 Boutinot

Waterkloof, Circumstance, Chenin Blanc 2016, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£11.29 Boutinot

Millton Vineyard, Te Arai, Chenin Blanc 2015, Gisborne, New Zealand

Commended medal winner

£14.33 Bibendum

Babylon's Peak, Chenin Blanc 2016, Swartland, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Fram, Chenin Blanc 2015, Western Cape, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£18.61 Enotria&Coe

 

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