Chenin Blanc was also the star of the show at a tasting at Cavalli family cellar in the golden triangle of the Helderberg. An architectural showcase set on a wine and stud farm, the tasting room and restaurant headed by winelands maestro chef Michael Deg offers great views, wine and fabulous food. Winemaker Craig Barnard led one of the smartest tastings of the year, cleverly deconstructing Cavalli’s flagship Cremello white blend into its varietal components of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Verdelho and Viognier. First we tasted the single varietal wines, then the blend. The Filly Chenin Blanc 2017 gives classic expression to the variety, showing the hallmark stone fruit, quince, green melon and ginger character, supported by creamy nuances of vanilla, honey and almond from nine months in French oak (25% new).
The entry-level Cavalli White Knight Chenin is more Sauvignon-esque to use my new descriptor, showing a fresh and zesty character with grassy, green apple notes and a dry, zesty finish. “We want to invest in Chenin as our focus variety” says the winemaker, who is planning to increase the proportion of Chenin as the backbone of the Cremello blend. The 2015 vintage won the Old Mutual Trophy for best white blend. Cavalli Chenin speaks for itself in a region which is a benchmark for fine Chenin – and in close proximity to key producers like Ken Forrester, Longridge, Radford Dale, Paul Roos and Post House.