Chenin blanc is the most widely planted grape variety in South Africa, where it’s used for both dry and sweet wines as well as sparkling and sherry-type wines and even distilled products. It’s a workhorse, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed. A fresh, fruity South African chenin is a great beverage for summer (or, really, any time of year). And the price is usually very affordable.
This bottling from MAN Family Wines is a great example and a good value. The wine is racy, almost tart, with flavors of apple, lemon and quince. A lot of refreshment for just $12.
The label includes the notation “free-run steen.” Steen is the traditional South African name for chenin blanc, although nearly all producers are now using the more common name. The winery uses only the free-run juice, with no pressing of the grapes.
I tasted this wine at home, but I’ve since tasted a number of South African wines at the source. Look for more on this dynamic wine-producing country in the coming weeks.