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.
The Chenin Blanc for this wine was fermented sur lie for 3-6 months and aged in 100% stainless steel.
Flavor Profile: From the bottle there’s a subtle scent of green apple behind the dominant yeasty aroma. Pouring the wine from bottle to glass, gives the wine an illusion of clarity, but it settles into the bowl as a faded sunset yellow — like a sunset that’s masked by the fog. Note, this Chenin Blanc is not cloudy, it’s simultaneously a muted yet luminescent yellow. Initial aromas in the glass are, at first, more of those green apples, but there’s also a vegetative floral aroma — zucchini flower, dandelion — as well as a bit of dust. Swirl, and the Lubanzi 2016 Chenin Blanc releases an almost grassy scent. Move the nose to the top of the glass to find stronger, juicier apples.
The initial palate of the Chenin Blanc is smooth, with a tingle that sneaks in at the tip of the tongue and tickles all the way through. The flavors are more tropical than suspected based on the nose: banana, passionfruit, dried lavender. The acid is a solid medium — neither over-powering nor too subtle. It’s the effervescence that keeps the Chenin light and refreshing throughout.
Let the wine linger too long in the mouth and find a light puff pastry-like “breadiness.”
Food Pairing: I paired the Lubanzi 2016 Chenin Blanc with a plain cheese quesadilla and an arugula salad. The arugula highlights the fruits and flowers in the wine, while the wine perfectly relieves the leaves peppery flavor. Meanwhile, what I really enjoyed, was that the melty cheese pulled out that yeasty, bready component in the wine, highlighting the Chenin Blanc’s hidden complexity.
I asked Walker what he likes to eat with this, and he said, much like his 2015 Rhône Red Blend, he recommends Cape Malay cuisine, saying that the flavors of this culture are so diverse they can be paired with red or white wines. His personal favorite: Cape Malay curry.
More Info: Read more about the South African wine region and the Lubanzi story.
I received the Lubanzi 2016 Chenin Blanc as a sample for review. (Cheers Brian and Walker!) For more information about Lubanzi including wine prices and how to purchase, please visit the Lubanzi website.
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