I have mentioned before how highly I rate the Chenin Blanc Reserve from DeMorgenzon in Stellenbosch. Well, the 2019 vintage has just been released and it is sure to impress followers of this estate.
It represents a slight departure from recent hot and dry vintages, as 2019 was cooler and resulted in wines with bright acidities that show fine precision. Is the 2019 better than the 2018 or 2017? It is different – there is finesse about the vintage and such a persistence of flavour that I would count it as a great Chenin Blanc vintage for the estate. It may also prove to be a touch longer-lived than recent vintages if you are keen to see how it progresses in the cellar. I tend to like the cooler vintages in the Cape as they bring out character traits that are closer to their European counterparts.
If by some chance you have managed to dodge my glowing endorsement of this estate, here is a little background. DeMorgenzon 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 ‘DeMorgenzon’ means ‘the morning sun’ and is so named as it lies in the first section of 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, is owned by the Applebaum family. As Neal Martin said back in 2017, “DeMorgenzon continues to set the pace for outstanding Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc’.
As South Africa’s most planted grape variety, it is all too easy to find examples of high volume, simply made Chenin Blanc, and to almost forget the heights this grape can reach in the right hands and when planted in the best sites. DeMorgenzon’s Reserve Chenin comes from 50-year-old, low-yielding vines planted in decomposed granite-based soils at altitudes of 250-300 metres. Grapes for the 2019 Reserve Chenin were handpicked over three passes through the vineyard (all carried out in the cooler early mornings), such is the attention given to picking grapes at optimum ripeness. Fermentation took place in French oak barrels (about 20% new) using indigenous yeasts, and around 20% of the volume underwent malolactic fermentation before being aged on its lees in barrel for 10 months. The resultant wine is rich and complex, with a subtle creaminess to the texture, a concentrated core of delicious, tangy, zesty fruit, all underpinned by a zippy, mouth-watering freshness. It sounds rather good, doesn’t it? Well, it is – a fact that is borne out by how well this wine sells on release.
Please see below for Tim Atkin MW’s recent note as well as my own.