Drinks, food

13 excellent chenin blancs from the breedekloof valley

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Linked by winding roads, farm dams dot the picturesque, mountain-flanked Breede River Valley in the Western Cape. It is also home to a host of wineries that have come together to elevate their craft, and their surroundings. The group, going by the moniker of Breedekloof Makers, has decided to make this area the go-to for Chenin Blanc wines. Chenin Blanc was the cultivar of choice for Breedekloof Makers (who started the collective in 2014) because of the region's climate and geography, which is ideal for producing this wine. The 13 winemakers involved produce their own Chenins, each of which showcases their creativity, as well as the versatility of the wine. A common thread in these Chenins is a hint of stone fruit on the palate, but for the most part, each wine has it own taste, style and personality. Look out for these 13 2017 Chenin Blancs produced by Breedekloof Makers:

1. bergsig estate chenin blanc

A confident yet modest, well-rounded Chenin, Bergsig Estate Chenin Blanc has a rich aroma of dried apricots and ripe citrus with a touch of wood. Winemaker Chris du Toit created this wine using grapes handpicked in the early morning by taking a careful approach to wood maturation.

2. badsberg chenin blanc

Straw-coloured with elegant soft aromas of tropical fruit and an oak undertone, Badsberg Chenin Blanc is a well-balanced wine with a crisp and fruity finish. Winemaker Henri Swiegers fermented the wine in new American oak barrels to give the wine that oak undertone.

3. botha kelder barrel-fermented bush vine chenin blanc

For a cellar that mostly mass produced wine, the Botha Kelder Barrel Fermented Bush Vine Chenin Blanc is winemaker Annamarie van Niekerk's way of flexing her creativity and showing that the big guys can make smaller-quantity, boutique-style wine. This vintage is a vibrant green-gold colour with multidimensional aromas of  lemon and ripe peach.

4. daschbosch steen

A fruit-forward wine, Daschbosch Steen has distinctive notes of yellow apple, green melon and lime on the nose, with a burst of fresh yellow and white-fruit flavours. It was important for winemaker WS Visagie to make an honest and fun wine that reflects his personality.

5. deetlefs reserve chenin blanc

Winemaker Ferdi Visser wanted to make a complex wine that ages well. He used reductive winemaking techniques on the Chenin juice to preserve the fruity aromas and matured the wine in a concrete egg vessel. The result is Deetlefs Reserve Chenin Blanc, which has a deep rich colour and expressive aromas of pineapple, granadilla, apricots and butterscotch, complimented by subtle oak spiciness that carries through to the palate.

6. jason's hill 'beatrix' barrel-fermented reserve

One of the more unusual and complex Chenin Blancs, Jason's Hill Beatrix Barrel Fermented Reserve has hints of honey, lemon and white fruit with a slight creamy texture. Winemaker Ivy Du Toit tried a different method, using only free-run juice, and fermenting the wine in a stainless-steel tank and then in new Hungarian Oak barrels.

7. lateganskop 'the zahir'

The 2017 vintage of Lateganskop The Zahir Chenin Blanc encompasses the characteristics of the vintages that came before it. It it characterised by a brace of fruit flavours that are delicate and fresh. According to winemaker Heinrich Lategan, each vintage has brought out an unconventional side of the wine, which is what he identifies with.

8. merwida family vinters

Lieza van der Merwe is the sixth-generation vintner at Merwida, and pays homage to her family's love of the wine industry with Family Vintners Merwida. It is the winery's first premium 'estate' wine, made with 100% fair trade-accredited grapes, sourced from the farms vines. The wine is silky with prominent citrus flavours and oak notes with a zesty aftertaste.

9. olifantsberg 'lark' chenin blanc

Olifantsberg Lark Chenin Blanc is a delicate example of Chenin Blanc. It has a clean-cut freshness with a good balance of stone fruit and citrus. Winemaker Elizma Visser wanted to make an elegant wine that expresses good layers of fruit and savoury notes.

10. opstal 'carl everson' chenin blanc

Using a classified, single vineyard, winemaker Attie Louw's philosophy is to portray the vintage used year after year as the only variable with each new wine. Thus, even though the winemaking process for Opstal Carl Everson Chenin Blanc stays the same each year, each vintage it different. The 2017 has hints of quince and pineapple notes and yellow peach flavours on the palate.

11. slanghoek 'legends' barrel-fermented chenin blanc

Winemaker Elaine Conradie decided to make a wine with bold fruit flavours that linger on the tongue. Slanghoek Legends Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc is a full-bodied wine that shows refined fruit expressions of pineapple, lime and apricots, with a velvety finish on the palate. It was also named as one of the country's top Chenin Blancs in the annual Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 challenge.

12. stofberg family vineyards 'mariëtte' chenin blanc

Beautiful tropical aromas and ripe fruit flavours define Stofberg Family Vineyards Mariëtte Chenin Blanc. The wine is slightly wooded and offers undertones of vanilla and spice. Winemaker Mariëtte Stofberg Coetzee has cemented her style and personality within her family's vineyards with this full-bodied wine.

13. stofberg wine estate 'border stone' chenin blanc

Stofberg Wines produces the Border Stone Chenin Blanc, a project that winemaker Pieter Stofberg made with his father, who was the winemaker before him. This Chenin is quite fragrant, with aromas of honeysuckle, hay, peach and quince, while the palate presents clean fruit with bright acidity.