When our good friend and Master of Wine, Richard Kelley (aka ‘The Liberator’), sidled up to us and said conspiratorially “I think I may have something of interest to you”, our ears pricked up like a steeplechaser approaching Becher’s Brook. In his capacity as ‘The Liberator’, Richard scours The Cape for little parcels of neglected vines or forgotten barrels of wine and ‘liberates’ them by bringing them to market. You’d be amazed how many wines get abandoned, not through lack of quality, but other factors, like time and money or, in this case, people. It was during the change of the winemaking personnel at Fable Mountain Vineyards that this wine was unearthed. It had been a side-project of the previous winemaker and the current incumbents didn’t know what to do with it. Richard got wind of it during a visit to the winery, tasted it and fell completely head over heels in love with it and asked if he could bottle it under the Liberator label. It doesn’t take too much deduction to work out that they agreed.
What is it?
It’s Chenin Blanc, folks, but not as we know it. The wine had developed a layer of flor, the thin veil of yeast that you find in only a few places around the world, such as the Jura and Xerez. Before you go crying to your nanny saying that the nasty man tried to sell me sherry, this isn’t a fortified wine and it doesn’t taste strongly of flor, it simply adds a light layer of sourdough and nutty charm to the otherwise familiar flavours of Cape Chenin (apple, lime, hard mango). It has an impression of richness, but is also earthy and dry and would go brilliantly with all kinds of cheese. It’s a one-off, which can never be repeated (as is so often the case with one-offs), as no one knows exactly how it was made, but it’s absolutely delicious and should be snapped up by anyone with a taste for Chenin Blanc and the Jura and ‘New Wave’ South Africa. 13.5% alc. Drink now-2023 (?).