A friend in the wine trade sent me a few bottles of South African out of interest and while I can’t repeat the words I uttered when I pulled a cork and first tasted the 2015 De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc Reserve, it suffices to say that I wasn’t expecting a wine of this calibre!
By way of background, De Morgenzon is based in Stellenbosch and was originally part of the Uiterwyk Estate – one of the oldest estates on the Cape dating back to 1679. The name ‘De Morgenzon’ means ‘the morning sun’ and is so named as it is the first section of the the Stellenboschkloof Valley to benefit from the sun’s rays given its altitude (200 to 400 metres above sea level) and aspect. This impressive estate, extending over 55 hectares, was bought by Wendy and Hylton Applebaum in 2003 and has undergone a dramatic transformation. The Applebaums, along with their winemaker Carl van der Merwe, have devoted considerable time and resource to understanding the diverse terroirs across their extensive estate.
And the wine? Well, very few South African Chenin Blanc impress me. I would go as far as to say that outside of a handful of estates, very few Chenin Blanc impress me – irrespective of origin. The De Morgenzon’s Reserve Chenin Blanc typically shows terrific purity of fruit, a fascinating melange of juicy stone-fruits and citrus with complex aromatic notes and hints of spice. It is underscored by a marked vibrancy and a fine smoky mineral, almost flinty finish, which renders this a mouth-watering Chenin of very high class. There is an uncommon complexity here that suggests a great match of vine and site, a restricted yield and intelligent winemaking.
The 2015 vintage featured in Decanter’s Top 20 wines of the 2016 Panel Tastings, with an overall rating of 95 points. In The Wine Advocate, Neal Martin commented that the de Morgenzon range was crowned by ‘the brilliant Reserve Chenin Blanc that represents one of the best white wines I (he) tasted in the Cape’ on his trip. He went on to award the 2014 vintage an impressive 94-point score. Although they have yet to taste the 2016, Tim Atkin and Jancis Robinson have also written great notes on previous releases.
This is a pre-shipment offer of the 2016 vintage – one of the smallest harvests of the last five years. We anticipate that our allocation will be available for delivery from early June. It will drink well upon shipment and could age for five year if preferred.
Before I forget, the 2016 Reserve Chenin Blanc, de Morgenzon is priced at £110 per 6 bottle case in bond
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