Day 3 – 12 days of Wine – South African Chenin Blanc
Releaf Chenin Blanc Western Cape 2021
The region for wine in South Africa is on the southern tip, in a region called the Western Cape. The area expands north and east from Cape Town. The soil and climate diversity here allows many varieties to flourish. However, they have a grape pest that most regions don’t have to contend with, baboons. The baboons especially love pinot noir and only like the best fruit. Vineyards often need to hire security to monitor the vineyards at harvest and drive the baboons away.
The region is influenced by the Benguela Current that flows up along the western coast from Antarctica, bringing moist air. This is balanced by the “Cape Doctor,” a southern arid wind that helps to dry the vines out and keep them healthy.
As to the soils? Well, the soils here are some of the oldest on the planet at a billion years old. They come from the ancient supercontinent, “Gondwana.”
When it comes to grapes in the Western Cape, there is a wide variety. But one grape seems to lead here: Chenin Blanc referred to locally as ‘Steen.’ It is the most widely planted grape in the country. South Africa has almost ½ of the vineyards of Chenin Blanc worldwide within its borders.
In France, this grape makes the wines of Vouvray and Savennières. In Savennières, the wine is dry, while in Vouvray, you will find it in a variety of sweetness levels and sometimes sparkling. You find bright fruit and floral notes in the wine. Wines of Vouvray are often wines meant to be enjoyed right away.
You will find notes of pear, lemon, chamomile, honeydew melon, wet stones, preserved lemon. Those sweeter styles might have peach notes, or baked apple.
The winery that makes this wine is Imbuko. Located near Wellington, the name means ‘Admiration for…’ in Xhosa (one of the 11 official South African languages and the language of Nelson Mandela).
Releaf Chenin Blanc Western Cape 2021
I found notes of honeydew melon, Meyer lemon, wet grasses, chamomile, pear, crushed stone, citrus pith, and green apple on the nose. This wine is meant to enjoy young and fresh.
12.5% abv $10.99 Total Wine $9.06 Vivino
Why we chose this wine
Releaf is sourced from growers using sustainable viticulture and bottled using partially recycled glass and sustainable inks and paper.
This wine is part of the “Releaf” project, and a portion of the proceeds go to the Imbuko Schools Support Project, funding scholarships for local schools.
Butternut squash with spiced chicken and fig jam
We used chicken, but you could certainly make this with turkey if you wanted. This spoon is like a bite of a fall dinner, thanksgiving in a bite. The warm spice, the roasted butternut, the fig jam, the dried cranberries, and then the crunch of the toasted herbed panko on top will have you closing your eyes and picturing that Thanksgiving dinner.
Check out our book series “Tempting Spoonfuls” available through Amazon!
Inspired by the flavors and aromas in wines, this book creates “tempting spoonfuls” of flavors to pair with wines.
Robin has always had a love for spoons, with a drawer full of them in all different shapes and sizes. There is comfort in eating something from a spoon and something very sensual also.
Creating a spoon filled with flavors and aromas that will be eaten in a single bite, allowing the flavors to meld and pop in your mouth, is a joyful endeavor, and you are encouraged to make these your own.
The spoons range from savory to sweet, with something for everyone, and while they are paired with wines, they are delicious on their own.
These recipes are wonderful for appetizers and hors d’oeuvres or simple to create something delicious to spoil yourself, much like a pint of ice cream.
Each of these spoons is paired with a specific wine, and you get a bit of background on the wine, its flavors, aromas, and a bit of its story. She also includes other suggestions for wines to pair with the spoon.
The book is a feast for your eyes, with photos of each layered spoonful.
There are also photos of the wines with the elements of their flavor profile surrounding them. Those elements often inspire the pairing.
The goal is to make your mouth water and encourage you to create your own “Tempting Spoonfuls.”
“Tempting Spoonfuls – Pairing single bites with glorious wines” – Our first book paired wines from boutique wineries on the west coast, in California, Oregon, and Washington, with delicious spoonfuls.
This book is 60 pages, 18 recipes, lots of beautiful photos, and insights into some wonderful small wineries!
“Tempting Spoonfuls – small bites paired with wines from around the Globe” – This book takes us around the globe to explore 12 wine regions, a wine from the region, and then gives you a recipe for a pairing!
A slightly larger book at 104 pages, this time you learn about pairing with a type of wine from a region. Rather than a specific bottle, you can look for a style of wine from a region and feel confident that it will go well with the recipe pairing we provide. We give you 12 recipes, each to pair with a wine.
Either of these books gives you wonderful recipes to create appetizer spoons to pair with wines for a party!
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.
South Africa holds a very special place in our heart since our visit there in 2018. They definitely do Chenin well and very much what we were drawn to and as usual your pairing seems absolutely spot on. We think you’d be a fan of their sparkling wines (Method cap classique), maybe a consideration for next year’s list?!
I do love Cap Classique and remember your coverage of your trip fondly! Indeed, it is great suggestion for next year’s list!