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Home Winners > Winners 2020 > Chenin Blanc

Winner Details

Chenin Blanc

If Riesling wants to learn how to forge ahead in SWA it should take a look at Chenin Blanc. This is a style that is definitely going places in the Sommelier Wine Awards. Over the past few years it’s won over our tasters with both its stylistic variety and its pricing – and it did so again this year. Five Golds was a record.

In the early stages, our teams generally seemed to prefer the cheaper or mid-priced wines – many of the richer, oakier, more expensive wines were deemed to be lacking in balance. But once these had gone, feedback at the medal stage of judging was very positive, with lots of good wines to choose from. And some of the pricier versions are not bad cut-price Chardonnay substitutes.

From ‘cheap and fresh’ to ‘rich and oaky’ there were really good examples here at prices that were never less than fair. The Cape’s winemakers, in particular, deserve real credit.

It’s a pleasant surprise that the number of Golds here was nearly the same as for the much larger New World Chardonnay category, but the biggest shock, perhaps, is that our standout wine (and Critics’ Choice winner) came not from South Africa, but New Zealand.

From The Tasting Teams

‘The wines actually got worse as they got more expensive. Here, the quality lies in value.’ Harry Ballmann, Folie

‘The wines on the lower end of the price range were well made and could be great aperitifs. The medium- and high-priced wines were slightly overpriced for the quality in bottle, but some were showing great typicity and ripeness of fruit.’ Jurijs Nemkovs, StreetXO

‘Chenin is one of those grape varieties where you don’t expect very much, but we had the full range here: cheerful house wine, fruity and fresh, then at the top end there were interesting wines. Chenin can definitely deliver.’ Sarah Jane Evans MW, team leader

‘The last wine in our flight was £30. It’s difficult to sell South African Chenin on a list at £100 a bottle.’ Janusz Pawel Sasiadek, Mercato Metropolitano

‘The entry level was better than the highly priced wines. There was not enough complexity for that price tag, and they were not balanced.’ José Hernandez, Hakkasan

‘Many of the top-end wines were overworked and didn’t give enough for the price.’ Michael Fiducia, Royal Automobile Club

‘These wines were interesting. In the future they will be more appreciated – the winemakers are working hard.’ Michele Ciciriello, China Tang at The Dorchester

‘Chenin is a brilliant grape variety when it’s sensitively handled.’ Angela Reddin, team leader

Award winners

Found 15 wines

New World: Chenin Blanc

Spier, 21 Gables, Chenin Blanc 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Gold medal winner

'A very bold style, with full-on dried wild flowers on the nose, as well as beeswax and spice alongside shaved red apple and vanilla, with some smoky oak underlying. The palate is rich, with lashings of oak to carry concentrated fruits, and a waxy, mineral mouthfeel.' Angela Reddin, team leader. 'Intense on the rich and complex nose, with a rounded palate showing a touch of dried and tropical fruit.' José Hernandez, Hakkasan.

£19.52 Bibendum

Ken Forrester, Reserve, Chenin Blanc 2018, Western Cape, South Africa

Gold medal winner

'Super drinkable and balanced, with ripe fruit sitting alongside some clear but not overwhelming oak use. A really nice wine.' Harry Crowther, Grape Times UK. 'Mineral, wet stone on the nose leads to a tangy pungency and good fruitiness.' Michael Driscoll, Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa. 'Rounded and nicely fruity, with depth and length, and baked apple strudel and warm spice notes.' Angela Reddin, team leader.

£10.91 Enotria&Coe

Boutinot , Wild House, Chenin Blanc 2019, Coastal Region, South Africa

Gold medal winner

'A perfect by-the-glass wine that's very fresh, with pleasant minerality and fresh exotic fruits.' Janusz Sasiadek, Mercato Metropolitano. 'Stylistically appealing, with mouth-watering acidity and lovely fruit.' Michael Driscoll, Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa. 'With its stone fruit notes of apricot and ripe peaches, along with some light honey notes, this is very decent for the price.' Aurore Anguenot, Aviary.

£6.25 Boutinot

Kleine Zalze, Family Reserve, Chenin Blanc 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Gold medal winner

'A bright, zesty style following through to honey and a tang of citrus, with a spicy edge to the finish.' Sarah Jane Evans MW, team leader. 'A great Chenin Blanc, showing provenance and a fruit profile at its best, with stone fruits and light notes of honey and hay veneered with vanilla. On the palate it's creamy and rich, with fresh acidity and a smooth texture. This would be great with seafood, pork or poultry.' Jurijs Nemkovs, StreetXO.

£15.97 Hatch Mansfield

Millton, Te Arai, Chenin Blanc 2017, Gisborne, New Zealand

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

'Lively, funky and fun as hell, with cola bottle and honeydew notes. Drink it. Love it.' Harry Crowther, Grape Times UK. 'A very exciting, natural-focused wine that brings some good minerality.' Laurent Richet MS, team leader. 'A shining Chenin Blanc with great structure, ripe fruits, floral notes and hints of honey. A good example of a wine to be enjoyed with food.' Jurijs Nemkovs, StreetXO.

£17.87 Bibendum

Mulderbosch, Block W, Chenin Blanc 2017, Western Cape, South Africa

Silver medal winner

'A great, fun wine with a golden-syrup tone, good intensity and a grippy, smoke-driven finish.' Harry Crowther, Grape Times UK. 'Ripe and fleshy, with greengages, a squeeze of lemon and some sweet notes that give a mouth-watering character, and some bitter notes to balance the sweetness.' Sarah Jane Evans MW, team leader.

£20.10 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Oldenburg, Chenin Blanc 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Silver medal winner

'Minerality is in abundance here, with great length, body and balance. A savoury Chenin that's gastronomically flexible.' Harry Ballmann, Folie. 'A grown-up style that's lean, lively and linear, with some of that exotic Chenin fruit, but the message is much more about citric minerality.' Sarah Jane Evans MW, team leader.

£10.55 Jeroboams

Kleine Zalze, Cellar Selection, Bush Vines, Chenin Blanc 2019, Coastal Region, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

'Pear, red apple and stone fruits on the nose lead to more fruit on the palate, with some medium acidity. Good value for money.' Luma Monteiro, Wineria. 'With its good acidity, a floral note and just a hint of honey, this could be enjoyed as an aperitif, and would work well on a by-the-glass list.' Jurijs Nemkovs, StreetXO.

£5.99 Hatch Mansfield

Spier, Signature, Chenin Blanc 2019, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

'With pleasant, sweet tropical fruits, and some good balance on a palate that's creamy and soft, this is showing some good value, and would suit spicy Asian food.' Janusz Sasiadek, Mercato Metropolitano. 'Some subtle cool fermentation notes overlay citrus flesh and apple crunch.' Michael Fiducia, Royal Automobile Club.

£9.50 Bibendum

Stellenrust, 54 Chenin Blanc, Barrel Fermented 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Bronze medal winner

'This has an intense nose with good-quality tropical fruit.' Janusz Sasiadek, Mercato Metropolitano. 'Notes of apple pie and custard, with some oaky definition that really lifts fruit, such as quince, Bramley apple and grapefruit, with additional spicy vanilla and savoury oak characters, all leading to great length that retains its great acid typicity.' Angela Reddin, team leader.

£14.45 Bibendum

Mulderbosch, Steen Op Hout, Chenin Blanc 2018, Western Cape, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Ken Forrester, The FMC, Chenin Blanc 2018, Western Cape, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£27.19 Enotria&Coe

Journey's End, Reign of Terroir, Chenin Blanc 2019, Swartland, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£7.36 Matthew Clark

Kleine Zalze, Vineyard Selection, Chenin Blanc 2019, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Commended medal winner

Flagstone, Flagstone Tributary Chenin Blanc, South Africa 2017, Western Cape, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£8.75 Matthew Clark

 

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