I’m always amazed by people who won’t drink white wine. They stick to red and won’t budge.
Even when they are drinking reds in 32C heat.
I often tell them that they’ve been drinking the wrong whites, usually ever popular Marlborough-style sauvignon blanc. Or they harbour dark memories of cheap over-oaked new world chardonnay or chenin blanc.
Or they’re jaded by bland whites, sometimes chenins, chardonnays or middle of the road pinot gris/grigio that can’t be saved even with a dash of soda and a few blocks of ice.
Really! You may as well stick a straw in the bottle and suck for your life (and alcohol fix).
But there is another world of white wine out there, one of a rich oily texture, hints of oak and none too much acid. It’s one that reflects the area, the soil and the grapes.
Hogan chenin blanc
South Africa produces more chenins than any other country. The grape is thought to have been brought to the country by Jan van Riebeeck in 1655. Though as he’s a terrible bloke, who also brought slavery, I prefer to believe the huguenots brought the grape over from France. And I can guarantee I’ll be posting about more as they account for over 18% of all wines locally.
Grape: Chenin Blanc.
Naturally fermented. Old bush vines.
Price: About R340. Available online.
Volume: 13 barrels
At about R340 (AUD$35) Hogan’s Chenin Blanc isn’t the cheapest out there but in my current mindset of drinking fewer bottles of better wine is within my budget.
There are only 13 barrels made and the grapes, which come from cooler south east facing slopes, are hand picked and processed and naturally fermented and aged in French oak for 10 months.
That means they just chuck the grapes into a large vessel and don’t even add yeast.
It’s this that brings out the rich luxurious savoury and pear-like flavours that are enhanced by a hint of oak and a terrific balance of acid.
14% is a surprisingly high alcohol content, which is perhaps what gives me hints of sherry.
My partner Pam is taken with this wine for all the usual reasons and also, amusingly, because she programs mainframes for banks on an ancient environment called Hogan.
It’s a smooth, elegant wine though it is not James Bond played by Daniel Craig, or Pierce Brosnan for that matter.
Perhaps it’s more Oscar Wilde.
As the wine label says: “I threw the pearl of my soul into a cup of wine. I went down the primrose path to the sound of flutes. I lived on honeycomb.”
That sounds pretty good to me.
More chenins coming soon. And stemmed wine glasses.
New to South Africa, I’m exploring the diversity of wine in the country at one bottle a week. English by birth, I’ve spent the last 20 years in Australia writing about food and drink for daily newspapers, glossy magazines and my blog, founded in 2005.
I now live in Johannesburg and am educating myself on all the amazing, new, interesting and avant-garde wines available in this country.
Note: I endeavour to pay for all wines myself and I practice ethical blogging.
Also published on Medium.