The Chenin Blanc Reserve from DeMorgenzon has become such a dependable part of our range, delivering great quality and value. It is easy to see why it has garnered such a following.
The 2020 impressed greatly when we tasted at Atlas House. South Africa had had a run of very dry, low yielding vintages, that was broken by the cooler, more moderate 2019 vintage – 2020 continued that theme with a much more even growing season without drought and without spikes in temperature. The favourable conditions allowed for a calm harvest and led to brighter acidities.
I feel like I have been extolling the virtues of this particular example for a decade (maybe I have!), but in case you are new to it, 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 2020 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.