Friday, April 25, 2014

South African Wine: Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2012 , Stellenbosch

Holidays in my family and my wife's family are polar opposites.  When I was growing up, my family spent holidays at home, at rest, doing as little as possible - except for Mom, who was expected to feed everyone.  There was always a lot of sitting around, talking.  That's still true today, except he responsibility of preparing food for the feast has fallen to younger family members.

In my wife's family, holidays are just that - a clean and total break from the routine, whatever that happens to be.  On holidays you'll find them at restaurants, movies, public events - they stay as busy as little celebrating bees.  It is my suspicion they do this to avoid sitting around, talking.  That usually leads to disagreements, which lead to arguments, which culminate in fights.  Better they keep themselves busy when everyone is idle and spoiling for something to do.

One fine holiday, my wife had the bug to go to a movie.  I agreed, on the condition we go to the theater that features a bar down the hall.  Fortunately, she thought that was a great idea.  Agreement is a beautiful thing, and a glass of wine facilitates sitting around and talking.

At said bar, aptly named The Wine Bar, I was moved to order a wine from South Africa, shown on the menu as a Petit Chenin Blanc.   I asked the waiter about a grape known as Petit Chenin Blanc, only to find out that Petit is the name of the wine.  The grape is that same Chenin Blanc they love to call Steen in South Africa.

The wine hails from Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape appellation, on the little spit of land that also contains Capetown.  Ken Forrester Vineyards boasts that they have been around since 1689, which is a long time to be doing anything.  The grapes for the Petit line are not actually from the Forrester estate - they are negoçiant grapes, sourced from other growers.

At 13.5% abv, the wine's alcohol content isn't at all presumptuous and the $9 price tag is a pretty good by-the-glass price.  A humorous side note on the website claims the wine's aging potential to be "half an hour with the cap off, then reach for the next bottle!"

Petit Chenin Blanc shows a straw color in the glass, with a green tint that makes it look as fresh as a daisy.  There is a very herbal nose featuring salinity and savory white pepper aromas.  The palate also shows savory salinity, with the pear and quince flavors practically bowled over by that wonderful savory note and a refreshing acidity.  A medium finish lets the herbal notes linger.

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