NEW! Smiley 'V5' Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa NV

Smiley White.jpg
Smiley White.jpg

NEW! Smiley 'V5' Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa NV

19.50

When we 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 - look 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 and his equally irrepressible partner in crime (and life), Sam, at the SA New Wave Tasting in Soho and it was wonderful to see that he hadn’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 (2015 through 2018) 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 5th bottling, hence the name 'V5' (i.e. 'Version 5'). Previous bottlings have had different amounts of reserve wine and vinification techniques. 13% alc. Drink now-2025.


Press review:

Tim Atkin MW: “The Smiley white contains components going back to 2015, but is built around a core of the 2018 vintage. All from the granite soils of the Paardeberg, it's a complex and highly unusual Chenin Blanc, with salty, yeasty notes from the development of flor, some skin-contact tannins and a bready, balanced finish. Drink now-2023.” 92 points

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