BOWED HEAD Chenin Blanc 2008

Published: 14 Jan 10 by WINE MAGAZINE

Guala Closures Chenin Blanc Challenge 2010

Based on this year’s Guala Closures WINE magazine Chenin Blanc Challenge, it would appear that the top end of the Chenin Blanc category is finally undergoing the premiumisation that industry commentators have so long predicted.

In general, Chenin Blanc still sells at a discount relative to hugely fashionable Sauvignon Blanc: the average price of the 134 wines tasted in this year’s Challenge was R55 a bottle compared to R65 in the case of 226 examples of Sauvignon tasted for last year’s November issue. However, of the 11 examples rated 4 Stars or better, the average price was R102 a bottle, compared to R77 a bottle for the 39 Sauvignons in the same quality bracket.

It bears mentioning that all 11 wines to rate 4 Stars or better in this year’s competition had some kind of wood influence, the use of barrels for fermentation and maturation typically more expensive than making the wine in tank and done to achieve greater complexity. Thanks to these higher levels of quality, Chenin becomes more aspirational and hence more worthy of a price premium.

Put differently, what appears to be happening is top-end wooded Chenin starting to take on a price that is just high enough to make the buyer aware that he is treating himself without actually feeling real pain (overall winner and 5 Star-rated Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2008 at a mere R50 a bottle surely the exception that proves the rule).

When it comes to unwooded Chenin, there is still plenty of good everyday drinking to be had, but it should be noted that in the 15- year history of the competition, unwooded wines have only been judged outright winners twice, namely the L’Avenir 1997 in 1998 and the Mooiplaas Bush Vine 2008 last year.

There were 134 entries in total. These were tasted blind (with no indication of vintage, cellar treatment or technical analysis) by the five-person panel, scoring done according to the 20 point/5 Star system.

After this first round of judging was concluded, 16 wines were considered to have particular distinction and these went through to a second round where the panel could give them more detailed examination.

Once this round was completed, there was one wine that emerged as the outright winner on the basis of having the highest arithmetic average score, this being Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2008. It rated 5 Stars, improving on the 4 Stars it received in last year’s Challenge.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ five stars

Graham Beck Bowed Head 2008
Alc 13.23% RS 5.5g/l TA 6.8g/l pH 3.35
Golden yellow. The nose shows pronounced
honey and some toasty oak. The palate is
full and intensely flavoured showing dried
apricot, honey again and spice. Tangy acidity
lends freshness. Drink now or over the next
three years.
MF 18.5 CE 16.5 CF 15 MC 18 MN 17


Winemakers and their Cars! by Danie Nel

Last year, for the October issue of Wine magazine I was commissioned to shoot winemakers and their cars. 6 winemakers were selected and I was sent to shoot each. This was exciting, as it left me with some creative license, some brief in terms of layout and then two of my most enjoyable subjects: winemakers and cars. Perfect marriage? Possibly.

Andrew Gunn – Iona Wines: this is his first car he ever owned. A Porche. I decided on tracking. Getting to his farm near Elgin is a bit of a bundu bash, so I’m not sure the car gets a lot of road time out there! I was also not keen on missing out on the beauty of the surrounds. Unfortunately Wine mag decided on a posed image of them at his house. This was my favorite, though. I left with a fabulous bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that was enjoyed some months later with Rudi’s Jagermeister or Blue Cheese Boerewors. Magic.

20090728_0995 Andrew Gunnlr

Gyles Webb – Thelema: the Mini Cooper S just shone like a jewel the moment we put lights on it, so we ended up with this baby. Initially I tried on-car tracking, but the point was missed, so we opted for the more styled approach. The winery in the back with the mountains full of ominous clouds also worked in my composition. Afterwards he entertained us to some coffee, talk on gardening, eco-farming and his golf handicap. (If memory serves me correct, he used to play from a scratch handicap.) I left with a Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz. Magic.

20090729_0923 Giles Webblr

Pierre Wahl – Rijks: for this shot I had to head out Tulbach way, with the ever present threat of rain following me there, but once there, Pierre and I quickly found a spot that showcases the farm and gave the image a proper English country estate feel. Oh, he drives a Z3 for fun. He bought it with his dad. Normally he travels by bakkie, like most winefarmers! I left with a Sauvignon blanc among other really killer wines.

20090731_0060 Pierre Wahllr

Ken Forrester – Ken Forrester: Mr. Chenin himself was caught slightly unawares, as the car we were supposed to photograph, his 1976 Jag, was in for a serious panel job, but no worries, a 1950’s BMW motorcycle was handy. I much preferred this anyways. Although he was dreadfully busy, he gave us such a nice time, and afterwards sat us down for a tasting of some incredible French Sauvignon Blanc (R400 per bottle ex Cellar) and entertained us with knowledge on viniculture, the fallacy of green Sauvignon Blanc’s, stressing vines and traveling.

20090729_0949 Ken Forrester and Bikelr

Pieter Ferreira – Graham Beck: I feel like Pieter is somehow embedded in my camera, so many times have I photographed him. Anyways, little did I know he owned a seriously old Citroen, he imported from France. One of those typical 1970’s foreign film cars. Anyways, we met in Franschhoek and drove to Robertson for the sum-total of 30 minutes to do the shoot and then come back. Again, good fun. I don’t recall leaving with Sauvignon Blanc.

20090817_0022 bubbles Ferreirralr

Boela Gerber – Groot Constantia: Boela’s little Morris Minor is a beauty, and would’ve been even more impressive had it been able to start and drive itself to the location. It had recently been flooded in the garage and left the engine with much damage. However, on a farm there is always a tractor handy and we were able to pull it to where it needed to be. Then there was the case of the baboons always lurking nearby being rather threatening. All in all, we had good fun and left with some really awesome Sauvignon Blanc, and a dessert wine.

20090730_0043 Boela Gerber Finallr

Posted by Danie Nel at 1:08 PM 1 comments Links to this post

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