SA Chenin Blanc producers may be forgiven for feeling like characters in an episode of the Special Victims Unit TV sitcom this week after the savaging they received in the New York Times. Under the headline “a wine that isn’t what it used to be” Eric Asimov puts in his size 12s after tasting 20 SA Chenins. “The grape is not being celebrated here. These have veered into a drink, rather than a wine” was one of the nicest comments. Which is weird, as at the end of last year, the single SA entry in the Wine Spectator Top 100 was Wendy Appelbaum’s De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc 2009.
Poor Annette Badenhorst, WOSA’s point girl in New York, one of the few WOSA operatives with an increased budget this year, up R20k to R4.25 million. Which will probably be spent in vain now as two thirds of SA exports Stateside are Chenin, according to Jacques Jordaan, who recently returned triumphant from the Big Apple with a listing for his Simonsig Chenin in the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station, as he told me at a tasting of recently disgorged MCCs this lunchtime with winemaker Hannes Meyer (below, right) and Johan Malan.
Now while one swallow may not a summer make, damning SA Chenin on the evidence of 20 swallows is the height of irresponsibility. And this a month before Cape Wine 2012. Was there a Hope Marguerite from Beaumont in the lineup? A Cederberg, Botanica, Cartology, Skurweberg, Delaire, De Trafford, Donkiesbaai, El Bandito, Cape of Good Hope, Mrs. Kirsten, Lammershoek, Oldenburg, Wildekrans, Reyneke… Heck, many a US athlete will be drinking a glass of Olympic Chenin from Stellenrust after they’ve won gold. Its like drinking Entre deux Mers and calling Bordeaux a boring appellation.
Annette needs to send Eric a case of representative SA Chenin tout suite or better yet, use some of her millions to send him to the Secret Festival at Spier at the end of October for the Chenin and Pizza experience which promises to revolutionize the marketing of the most planted white cultivar in SA.