About the Wine: The Lubanzi 2016 Chenin Blanc is made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes harvested from the Swartland W.O. in South Africa.
Swartland, located just 40 miles north of Cape Town in the Western Cape WO, was originally a wheat-production region. Today, it is one of the WO’s main grape-growing regions, the most important grapes being Shiraz and Chenin Blanc. Topography here includes varying degrees of elevation, as it sits between the Paardeberg mountain in the south, the Piketberg plains in the north, and the Kasteelberg Moutnain to the east. The dominant soil type here is Malmesbury shale (named after Swartland’s central town of Malmesbury) — a good soil for natural drainage improved even further by the area’s elevation. Because it is somewhat separated from the Atlantic Ocean, Swartland’s climate is actually a hot and dry one, which is a benefit to Chenin Blanc, a tightly clustered grape variety susceptible to mildew and fungal disease when exposed to wet environments.
And, so it is here that Lubanzi sources their Chenin Blanc grapes.
According to Kevin Zraley’s Windows on the World, South Africa has the world’s oldest wine-growing geology, dating back to 1652 when the Dutch settlers planted their first vineyards. But until the mid 1990s, South African wines didn’t travel much — certainly not to America. This was largely due to the massive amount of boycotts around the world on South African products in conjunction with the country’s apartheid system. Once apartheid ended, South Africa’s export trade opened up and wine production received somewhat of a renaissance. Today, the country has just over 600 wineries.
Most of South Africa’s wine regions are located near the coasts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The climate is traditionally Mediterranean with sunny, dry summers, and cold, wet winters that often include snowfall at the higher elevations.
The theme is international wine this week — if you’ve been hanging out reading about Languedoc and New Zealand, then you know what I’m talking about. I have one wine that doesn’t quite fall into any of the designated “regional” themes, so this one-off review is just a celebration of my first Muscadet.
About the Wine: As I mentioned in my brief Languedob-Roussillon synopsis, some French wines prefer to stay mysterious. Or, maybe it’s that they decide to maintain and Old World etiquette, not boasting the exact grape varieties, winemaking methods, and percentages of each varietal used. It does seem to be a “New World” fascination, telling a wine’s story on the back of the bottle, swaying drinkers’ opinions by the choice of words used. Why not, instead, taste the wine and figure it out yourself.
Such is the case with this Domaine Sainte Croix Cuvee Montures 2015 Rosé. I can tell you very little except what I saw, smelled, and tasted. I’ve drawn the conclusion that it is a purposeful rosé created in classic Rhône-style. But, read my notes — or better yet taste it for yourself — and tell me what you think.
I love a good rosé and I love a good Rhône wine, so it’s a safe bet that a Rhône-style rosé would be right up my alley. Predominantly familiar with the California take on Rhône varietals, I was excited to receive the Gérard Bertrand 2016 Cote des Roses and taste the Languedoc AOC’s expression of these most familiar varietals.