We tasted: Craft 3 Chenin Blanc from M&S at £10 a bottle.
Emma says: “After a full on gutsy red last week this wine really is ringing the changes. The choice of a South African Chenin may be a bit controversial to those who love the versions from its birthplace the Loire. I wanted to give a nod to South Africa because I think they are producing increasingly interesting versions of Chenin in their own particular style.
Their original plantings of Chenin were mainly produced because they grew easily and held their acidity well in the warm climate. If you’ve tried a watery Chenin as a cheap entry level white in a pub or bar then this is probably what you’ve tasted. It’s also used all over the world as a blender grape that adds acidity to more fruity grape varieties like Chardonnay. But hold it there, because it can be so much more interesting and that is what I hope we are all going to taste this week. Grown at lower yields it is still that palate tingler with great acidity but it also has sparkly green apple fruit and is the ultimate crisp thirst quencher. Some producers also oak them which gives an overlap of peppery spice notes.
Onto our wine tonight. Craft 3 Chenin Blanc made by the Land of Hope winery. This is a truly bone dry style. Andy is great at spotting technical things on a wine and immediately noticed it is a bit spritz-y, which may mean they bottled with a touch of carbon dioxide. That makes it even more palate tingly. And the fruit is just like biting into a granny smith apple with a nice zesty lemon back bone. It does have some softer white melon fruit at the core that means it isn’t sour or sharp. And there is a classic hint of smoky white pepper that I often get in South African whites but in a very discrete way. I think fans of Chardonnay, Viognier or New Zealand Sauvignon might not get this wine. It can just seem austere and lacking in fruit oomph. But if you like crisp whites like Pinot Grigio or Gavi then this could be a nice alternative.
All that acidity makes it a fantastic wine to cut through a rich food such as a creamy pasta sauce or risotto.”
Andy says: “I was drinking this during Man Utd’s awful performance in, and subsequent exit from, the Champion’s League. I was in my lucky seat and everything – so now the blame must lie with the wine and not Mourinho’s awful tactics.
The first thing I noticed was a tingle, but that faded as the glass wore on. I do like a good Riesling, which is a high acid grape, and Chenin Blanc is too. I liked this wine, so perhaps I like high acid. It was very clean and crisp, had notes of peach and apple, was a touch ‘white wine-y’ but on the whole it was very, very drinkable. It might have just been the terrible mood I was in, but I could easily have downed it all. Just not when Man U are on, as it’s now my unlucky wine.”
Chenin Blanc originates from the Loire in France, but we are opting to taste the new world region most famed for its production – South Africa. We will be looking for a unoaked or lightly oaked South African Chenin which will help us to try the grape in its most unadulturated style. To find that go to the South African white section and check the back label to see if oak is mentioned, typically the label will state if it is used in the winemaking. Ken Forrester is a great producer, widely distributed, and a good option if you spot one.