How Much? R39;
Where? Allée Bleue Wines, Franschhoek, 27 (0)21 874 1021;
Why? This is a well-priced Chenin driving in the middle of the road from Franschhoek (which supplies 40% of the grapes) down to Walker Bay which supplies the balance. The first 12 balling of sugar is fermented in stainless steel tanks after which the wine is transferred to large 500 litre barrels (one third new) to complete its fermentation. The result is a creamy, nutty wine with a splash of peaches from the 4% Viognier winemaker Van Zyl du Toit adds for excitement.
Van Zyl hails from Riebeek Kasteel, the HQ of the Swartland Revolution, where his dad Niel used to make wine for the local Riebeek Cellar until an allergy to sulphur brought on a career change that saw him become an accountant. Being born in the Swartland, Van Zyl likely has Chenin rather than blood in his veins, most likely naturally fermented, although he lets the wild ferment cat out of the bag when he notes “there are no real wild ferments in the Swartland. [Commercial yeast] Vin 13 is so pervasive, it takes over after 3-4 days. The real difference with so-called ‘wild ferment’ wines is those 3-4 lag days before the commercial yeasts kick in.” But wild ferment makes a good story for the radical chic fringe desirous of charging an extra R100 for a bottle of bush vine Chenin.
Allée Bleue Chenin (with the fortunate initials ABC) is just about the cheapest white on the list at La Mouette restaurant in Sea Point and is one of the finest; just what the doctor ordered to go with the awesome crayfish linguine.
*****: Blue Velvet
****: Three Colours: Blue
***: Thin Blue Line
**: Blue Lagoon