South Africa grows a lot of Chenin Blanc, also known as Steen, partly to be distilled for brandy and spirits and partly for what have been rather bland, off-dry, commercial wines. But changes are afoot, especially at top producers in Stellenbosch like Reyneke. Even Wines of South Africa acknowledge there is an improvement, "growers are raising the standard to new levels."
Reyneke are proponents of organic viticulture and biodynamic wine-making (certified bio-dynamic since 2006), which basically means as little intervention as possible, whole bunch pressing, no artificial additives, no commercially cultivated yeast or bacteria, no acid adjustments or fermentation aids; the result in this instance is a complex Chenin Blanc, expressing the characteristics of the grape, the old low-yielding vines from adjacent vineyards (that are part of Reyneke's Old Vine Project) and the terroir.
This wine is lovely and golden in colour. It has great complexity on the nose and palate including intense aromas of honeycomb, lime, lemon thyme, ripe greengages, ripe apples, pear, pineapple and apricot plus, a particular characteristic of Chenin Blanc, damp straw - and a saline vibrancy due to its youth. What always amazes me most about this wine is its creamy texture and the fact that it manages to combine the creaminess with a zesty minerality. I have classified it as Aromatic given the beautiful aromas but it could easily fall into the Crisp Light Whites category. This wine can be enjoyed now but will keep for a few years; it is a wine of substance with a lovely long finish and will gain further depth as it develops over the next couple of years - if you can keep it that long!
This wine is on the wine list of Hakkasan Mayfair.
Drink on its own or with a range of foods including seafood generally, scallops in particular, fish including fish ceviche or tartare, sushi, smoked salmon, smoked trout, dishes e.g. salads with fruit, turkey with cranbery sauce, pork with apple sauce, avocado, asparagus, peas, goats cheese and mild cheeses, cooked egg dishes such as quiches and omelettes, dishes with a creamy sauce and chicken
"Upfront floral and white peach notes, with hints of pear and grapefruit on the nose. Notes of honey and melon start to become more apparent later on, in the glass.The palate is fresh and vibrant, with an almost saline feel on the tongue. The finish is long, well balanced and rounded."
92 points Wine Spectator Feb 2020
"Pure and expressive, with a gorgeous mix of pear, yellow apple and green almond flavors, carried by sleek minerality and vibrant acidity. Beautifully structured, showing a bit of crunchiness midpalate, while honeysuckle and cardamom notes echo in the background. Good length. Drink now through 2028"