Spioenkop, the acclaimed and award-winning wine estate in Elgin, has ousted launched new Chenin Blancs made with grapes sourced entirely from the farm. Introducing the Johanna Brandt and Sarah Raal vintages, which will be available from Spioenkop's new barrel cellar as well as from selected outlets from May.
Winemaker Koen Roose has won international acclaim for his 1900 Spioenkop Chenin Blanc which was awarded five stars in this year’s Platter guide. While grapes for the 1900 range (which includes the 1900 Pinotage which Spioenkop will continue to produce), were sourced from the entire Western Cape, Spioenkop’s new Chenin Blanc will be made with grapes only grown on the estate.
“Chenin Blanc is the chameleon that shows its beauty in different ways; it’s the rainbow nation grape of South Africa," says Roose. "At present there is no Chenin Blanc in Elgin that is planted, made/produced and bottled in the valley other than Spioenkop Wines and I wanted to give this cultivar its own identity and expressions of our cool climate terroir,” he adds.
So why the decision to stop producing the spectacular and award-winning 1900 Chenin?
"It was a tough one to make but I felt that the vision and future of Spioenkop lies with the world of fine dining, where it is headed and the styles of wines that the market will be looking for in the next 10 years. I couldn’t just sit on my laurels while my vision lay elsewhere,” explains Roose.
Roose is paying homage to the Anglo Boer War and the role played by women in that war, with his two new Chenin Blanc wines named Johanna Brandt, a wooded chenin blanc, and Sarah Raal , and unwooded chenin blanc.
Brandt was the petticoat commando lauded as a visionary, prophet, spy and writer with political influence and who organised women to spy on the British officers and hid prisoners who were on the run.
Says Belgian born Roose: “Her vision and mentality fit perfectly with the style of wine that is named after her. She was smart and feminine with a wild side and that’s the style of wine I want to make with this wine. Her surname means ‘fire’ in English and fire brings me back to the toasting of barrels, so it helps wine lovers to remember the difference between the two women (wooded and unwooded).
Sarah Raal was taken prisoner and held at a concentration camp in Springfontein until her escape. She then joined her brothers on commando and took part in a number of guerrilla engagements, displaying considerable bravery.
“I wanted a Chenin that has a chalky mouth, a limey texture that is not bold and tropical. I want to taste Elgin in the wine; that crispy minerality that is built on natural acidity from the grape itself. A style that is so sensual that it is a perfect match for fine dining. There is a common understanding these days that meat is no longer a foundation stone for the next generation of restaurateurs. More and more chefs are looking for natural seasonal products that reflect their origin, going botanical with a lot of fruit, flowers, vegetables and spices. These wines will be perfect with this type of cuisine,” concludes the winemaker.
Spioenkop's two new Chenin Blancs are Sarah Raa Terroir, driven with a high minerality component and a tight but waxing mouth feel. Next to that tightness you have the stone fruit components. And Johanna Brandt, a dense structure with a creamy taste from the barrel maturation but with great acidity. Next to its creaminess you have floral components.