NEW! Smiley 'V3' Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa NV

Smiley White.jpg
Smiley White.jpg

NEW! Smiley 'V3' Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa NV

17.50

When I met Smiley's winemaker, Ryan Mostert, for the first time, he was working as a young cellar-hand at Reyneke in Stellenbosch, helping out in the tasting-room with irrepressible enthusiasm, not just for his role in making people feel welcome, but in his eagerness to learn  There was something about his energy that couldn't be ignored and I made a note in my tasting book that just said "Ryan Mostert - watch out for him". 

That was nearly ten years ago and with undisguised humble-bragging on my part, I am pleased to say that he is now one of South Africa's most sought-after winemakers. If that sounds like an overuse of the phrase, it can be illustrated by the fact that his UK importer sent a mailshot to a few trade customers announcing that 1,000 bottles of the Smiley Chenin Blanc had arrived and by the end of the same day it had sold out.

We met up with Ryan in London a few weeks ago and it was wonderful to see that he hasn't lost an ounce of his infectious enthusiasm and is still as quick to tell his own story as listen to yours. We loved the whole range of his wines, but it was the Smiley Chenin Blanc in particular that took our breath away.

If you have ever queued up for a rollercoaster and seen a sign saying 'Experienced Riders Only', you may have wondered how anyone overcomes the implicit Catch-22 in such a stipulation, but you get the idea nevertheless. Well, a similar sign should be posted on the back label of this wine. What is it, I imagine I hear you cry?  It's a hugely complex, thought-provoking Swartland Chenin Blanc, a blend of four vintages (2014 through 2017) containing a barrel-fermented portion, a maderised portion, a flor component and a skin contact component. That all adds up to one seriously profound and contemplative white wine, bursting with ripe citrus and stone fruits, but underscored by a fascinating saline element, a nutty, smoky quality and a vivid mineral streak courtesy of the granite soil on which the vines grow. This is his 3rd bottling, hence the name 'V3' (i.e. 'Version 3'). Previous bottlings have had different amounts of reserve wine and vinification techniques. 12.5% alc. Drink now-2025.

Greg Sherwood MW: "Slightly smokey straw yellow, touch opaque. The aromatics are fresh, citric and vibrant, showing saline, sea breeze and oyster shell notes which currently dominate the lemon lime white citrus fruits. Production is now up to 7,500 bottles of this, the 3rd non-vintage release. There’s a fascinating lime pith and red cherry stone fruit exotic note that develops. The palate entry is taught and linear with dusty briney minerality, alka seltzer and granitic wet stone terroir notes. The finish is textured and zippy and continues to unfurl with more and more complexity until it eventually ends with a tangerine pith, dried herbs, and a wet slate punch. What impressive complexity, palate texture and of course value for money. Funky Swartland kit at its very best! " 93 points

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