South Africa has many cultural influences in it's winemaking from the Dutch, Germans, Italians and the French. You'll find a blend of Old World and New World styles in the wines produced today. Chenin blanc production is the greatest in South Africa compared to the rest of the world with about 19,000 hectacres planted. Chenin blanc had a decrease in sales for 20 years at the end of apartheid. When it was replanted the plantings went from 82% white to 55% white. Sauvignon blanc actually has about 50% of the plantings that chenin blanc does, but chenin blanc has become more popular today due to it's wide array of expressions.
There are many crisp and acid driven chenin blancs as well as those that are rich with hints of oak, but the trend today for chenin blanc is toward the middle of these 2 spectrums. You'll find two types of soil that exist where chenin blanc is grown. One is decomposed granite from the Stellenbosch mountains that produce chenin blancs with acidity, citrus and minerals and the other is sandstone like that of Table Mountain in Cape Town that produces chenin blancs with riper fruit.
What I didn't realize about South Africa's wine production is that they produce the most fair trade in the world. In 2014 they produced 75% of the world's fair trade. Being a country that takes sustainability and organic wine production very seriously Wines of South Africa is “not just making better wine, they're making wine better.”
The array of wines I sampled for this tasting were:
2013 Raats Old Vine Chenin Blanc
2015 Bellingham Old Orchard Chenin Blanc
2015 Rivers End Chenin Blanc
2015 Terre Brûlée Le Blanc
2015 Solms-Delta, Chenin Blanc
2014 Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc
I plan on doing a more in depth article on the variety of wines I tasted giving you some insight into each winery at another time, but today I picked one of the wines in particular for the pairing that I chose below.
Challenge with the South African wine industry in the US market
Like many countries outside of the US, South Africa has it's challenges in making it's presence known in the US wine market. It's all about awareness. The more the average wine consumer can be educated by us wine bloggers, wine magazines, retail, etc, the more these countries' wines sales hopefully will increase and an appreciation for the diversity of the wines will be understood.
In addition, South Africa is becoming more and more of a travel destination, which brings additional attention to it's wine industry to regions like Stellenbosch, Swartzland, Franschoek and Paarl.
Food pairings with Chenin Blanc
When it comes to pairing chenin blanc it can go very well with the seafood of South Africa that is a combination of the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Some of the popular fish including snook (similar to mackeral), and kingclip (a flaky fish with the consistency of swordfish and grouper). Chenin blanc will also pair well with BBQ shrimp, chicken and vinaigrette and acidic sauces.
I chose to pair some of these chenin blancs with shrimp scampi. I spaced on making a South African dish, but there are always more South African wines and pairings for the future. I used a recipe for this pairing from my amazing cook/mother that I thoroughly enjoy and felt the wine and shrimp scampi were a nice compliment to one another. The chenin blancs in particular that were crisp with good acidity were a better compliment to this dish.
South African Wine Pairings
Here is a look at the wines and pairings the Wine Pairing Weekend group explored this month!
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Bunny Chow & A Pinotage
- Sarah and Tim from Curious Cuisiniere: Frikkadel with Sheba Sauce and a South African Cabernet Sauvignon
- Michelle from Rockin Red Blog: #WinePW Explores South African #Wine ~ A Whale’s Tale
- Nancy from Pull That Cork: Waterkloof Cape Coral Rosé and BLT
- David from Cooking Chat: Turmeric Spiced Steak and South African Wine Pairings
- Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva: Tasting South African Food & Wine
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator: Food with spice and wine that's nice!