Wines of South Africa, the industry association which promotes the exports of South African wine, announced participation in the 3rd annual #DrinkChenin Day on June 17. Started by Kate and Thomas Monroe, founders of the Southeast Wine Collective in Portland, OR, #DrinkChenin was created to celebrate the diversity of styles and expressions of Chenin Blanc from around the world. In recent months, South African Chenin Blanc in particular has garnered significant media interest including a recent review in the Chicago Tribune from wine columnist Michael Austin.
To mark the occasion, WOSA will be pouring a variety of South African Chenin Blancs during the grand tasting at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen. “We are thrilled to be supporting #DrinkChenin this year with some of South Africa’s most prominent producers,” says US Marketing Manager Jim Clarke. “It’s exciting to showcase such a variety of wines at Aspen, from classic names like Ken Forrester and DeMorgenzon in Stellenbosch to producers in less familiar regions like Cederberg as well as Adi Badenhorst in the Swartland.”
In addition, South African wines will be poured in a variety of seminars throughout the event, including “Getting Dirty Down Under: Southern Hemisphere Terroir” with Andrea Robinson, MS, which will feature the Capensis Chardonnay. Prominent South African winemakers such as Ken Forrester will also be in attendance.
Chenin Blanc in South Africa- Stats and Exports: Chenin Blanc is the most popular white grape varietal in South Africa and represents 18.2 percent of plantings in the country. South Africa has more plantings of Chenin Blanc than any other wine-producing regions—in fact, more than the rest of the world combined. Over the past five years, Chenin Blanc has been the fastest growing South African varietal wine in the U.S., up 35.5 percent in exports by volume over the last five years. The varietal commands the highest FOB price of all South African white varieties in the U.S. market, and is often recognized as the region’s premium offering. Clarke comments, “It is very gratifying to see the recent increases in value for South African Chenin Blanc. It is a testament to the improvements and advancements being made in the vineyards and in the cellar.”
In South Africa, a focus on Old Vine Chenin Blanc is on the rise, with viticulturists like Rosa Kruger working with wine grape growers to improve quality. Many winemakers have also moved to dry farming, especially with old, bush vine vineyards, which is responsible for a jump in quality.