A Triumph for Spioenkop and a Triumph for Elgin – Tasting and Reviewing the Sarah Raal Chenin Blanc 2020…

Spioenkop is a “conical, sun-drenched, and waterless hill in distant Natal.” It was the site of a nasty defeat for the British during the Anglo-Boer War in 1900, but now also lends its name to an impressive fine wine winery in South Africa’s cooler Elgin wine region.

Winemaker Koen Roose is a terroir obsessive as he believes, quite rightly, that winemaking is easy, but it’s finding the best grapes grown on the right terroirs that will deliver elevated, above average premium quality wines. The tactical battlefield advantages of the cool climate Elgin terrain also lend themselves beautifully to premium grape growing and winemaking.

With only a small handful of producers able to source Chenin Blanc in Elgin, this is a wine that will make collectors and connoisseur stand up and take notice. Along with other previous examples from Carstens Migliarina and Vrede en Lust, this Spioenkop 2020 Sarah Raal Chenin Blanc is a triumph not only for Koen but the entire region of Elgin.

Spioenkop Wines Sarah Raal Chenin Blanc 2020, WO Elgin, 14% Abv.

3.3 g/l RS | 7.5 g/l TA | 3.23 pH

There is a reason top Chenin Blancs have risen to incredible heights and are now challenging the top white Burgundy styles of France. This enticing expression from the vinous magician Koen Roose is certainly a beautifully crafted example that bursts out the glass with aromatic layers of buttered white toast, morning dew on wet straw, bruised yellow orchard fruits, dried baking herbs, green pears and spicy lemongrass top notes. Some of the grapes that used to go into the Johanna Brandt cuvee are now blended into the Sarah Raal for extra complexity and this stunning 2020 is rich, pure and focused with a piercing concentration of pithy yellow and green fruits, sweet tangerine, hints of exotic passion fruit, a delightful umami maritime salinity and a vivaciously fresh acidity that’s as highly charged as an highveld electrical thunderstorm. There is not that much Chenin Blanc grown in Elgin, but the ones that are made are real super stars and this Spioenkop is for me, one of the very best examples you’ll find. Drink this blockbuster on release and over the next 10 to 12+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Last cases of this wine are available from Museum Wines in the UK at £31.99pb.


2 thoughts on “A Triumph for Spioenkop and a Triumph for Elgin – Tasting and Reviewing the Sarah Raal Chenin Blanc 2020…

    1. The Johanna Brandt comes from the lower section of the Chenin Blanc vineyard which sits on shale. As a result, it is the more powerful of the two Spioenkop Chenin Blanc wines, and has a slightly more tropical fruit profile. This wine is aged in oak, whereas the Sarah Raal sees mostly stainless steel.


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