The Making of An Icon Wine ~ Tasting Patatsfontein 2016 Chenin Blanc…

I probably discovered this gem a little late in the day to properly appreciate the 2014 maiden vintage of Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc, only getting to drink the odd bottle or two with local South African winemakers. But the cat was out the bag, and I subsequently made sure I received a good chunk of the fabulous 2015, which is reviewed here:


https://gregsherwoodmw.com/2017/01/15/chenin-blanc-south-africas-new-international-calling-card/

The 2015 vintage yielded some fantastic, iconic wines, but during my visit in March 2017, I managed to taste many of the 2016s, and was so impressed with the top expressions from this tricky, drought stricken vintage. Many were picked earlier to retain acidity, but displayed massive concentration due to dramatically lower yields. A thoroughly collectable vintage indeed. 


Patatsfontein Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2016, Montagu, 13.5 Abv.

The 2016 was fermented with natural yeasts and aged in a mixture of old oak barrels of various sizes for approximately 10 months. It has a most precise, piercing nose of stoney yellow fruits, bruised yellow peaches, saline briney white citrus, pithy tangerine peel and all the hallmark Patatsfontein aromatics of waxy yellow apples, potpourri and exotic curry leaf incense notes. Very seductive, alluring, confident wine. The palate is even more concentrated and structured than the 2015, no easy feat in itself, proving yet again what great pedigree this wine has. The finish shows great energy, fine purity, and impressive, creamy textural length. It seems young Reenen Borman can do no wrong. Congratulations. Drink now to 2030+.

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


You can’t hold greatness back, and while the Patatsfontein is one of the most sought after Chenin Blanc whites in South Africa, the European market has yet to truly wake up to the exceptional quality of this wine. Sadly, when they do (which they will), we’ll all struggle to get even the current allocations we currently do due to its tiny single vineyard production. But the success will have been well earned and well deserved. 

Another Excellent White from Reenen Borman ~ Tasting the Patatsblanc 2016…

The Patatsfontein Old Vine Chenin Blanc made by Reenen Borman has taken the South African market by storm and is now super collectable, being tightly allocated due to its high quality and small production. I first encountered the 2014 vintage while out on the town in Stellenbosch with Silvervis / Terracura winemaker Ryan Mostert and partner Samantha Suddons. I subsequently managed to secure a tiny 2015 allocation. Boy, what a wine! 


But not everyone knows about the “second wine” Patatsblanc, a superb, well priced Colomard white with around 10% of Chenin Blanc in the blend. I really loved the 2015, which I reviewed on this blog, but the 2016 represents yet another step up in quality.


Patatsblanc N Versnit Wit 2016, Montegu, Western Cape

Taught, dusty aromatics lift out the glass, suggesting impressive depth and intensity. Like the 2015, this is a ultra mineral, super focused, terroir orientated expression. The 2016 feels slightly denser, riper and more expressive than the excellent 2015 expression. This well balanced, intense white is cool and dusty, showing sweet lemon & herbs, yellow grapefruit, powdered gravel minerality, talc and dried cut grass. This wine is just that little bit more fleshy, concentrated and self assured than the 2015. Definitely a wine for people with a sophisticated, old world inclined palate. Worth searching out and buying if you love dry, mineral, slightly reductive whites made in a Chablis’esque style. 

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chenin Blanc ~ South Africa’s New International Calling Card…

Yesterday I attended a fascinating tasting and lunch featuring an incredible array of iconic red and white wines. But tucked into the selection was a threesome of premium South African Chenin Blancs, made by some of South Africa’s hottest, most talented, rising star winemakers.

The flight consisted of the Patatsfontein 2015 Montagu Old Vine Chenin Blanc, the David & Nadia Skaliekop 2014 Swartland Chenin Blanc and the Johan “Stompie” Meyer Mother Rock Liquid Skin 2015 Chenin Blanc. Three vastly differing expressions of Chenin Blanc from three very individual, innovative winemakers.

More importantly, the three wines illustrated both the terroir versatility of the Chenin Blanc grape as well as the stylistic winemaking versatility present in South Africa. It is now impossible to pigeon hole Chenin Blanc within a generic context. The styles, expressions, and interpretations are so varied.

Chenin Blanc is now doing for South Africa, what Chardonnay has done so clearly for Burgundy in France. There is a style to suit all palates and a price point to suit all pockets. This diversity needs to be celebrated as it’s the fuel that continues to power the whole category forward internationally.
Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc 2015, Montagu

This Chenin Blanc ferment features a 40% portion with malolactic conversion and is then aged 11 months in old oak barrels. The nose bursts with lifted sweet white blossom, rich honeycomb, white peach, yellow citrus and vanilla pod spice. The palate is beautifully layered and elegantly textured with impressive concentration that grows as the wine sits in the glass. Light on its feet, there is a fabulous vein of acidity that melts into the fruit, harmonising beautifully with dusty mineral notes on the long, focused finish. Incredible class and precision, but oh so characterful all at once. A wine that is growing in stature and quality with each subsequent release. (Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)


David & Nadie Skaliekop Chenin Blanc 2014, Swartland

Another standout wine from David Sadie. We all know the heights that have been reached with his 2015 single vineyard wines, but this 2014, from a vineyard planted in 1985 on shale soils yields a beautifully opulent, exotic nose of lemon oil, yellow peaches, honeysuckle, orange blossom, pithy lemon marmalade and dusty, chalky notes. This wine is full bodied, unctuous, richly textured and full flavoured with oxidative honey notes, sweet lemongrass, stem ginger and a long, leesy oak spice finish. A wine with plenty of gravitas. (Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW) 


Mother Rock Liquid Skin Chenin Blanc 2015, Swartland

This Chenin Blanc was sourced from an organic single vineyard on the outskirts of Malmesbury, planted with dry farmed bush vines grown on koffieklip, decomposed granite and clay soils. Grapes underwent 9 weeks of skin contact and the result is a truly impressive wine style. A deep golden orange colour, the wine has complex aromas of orange blossom, exotic fruits, apricot, old honey, barley sugar and grey slate liquid minerality. Such a vibrant, pithy acidity with plenty of freshness and depth on the palate. This wine is seriously complex and structured, but also incredibly drinkable. Not perhaps for novices, but to say this wine is some sort of acquired taste would not be doing the wine justice. Majestically executed within its style. (Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Little Karoo’s Montagu whites raising eyebrows in London…

I have to admit that I have not yet met the young, dynamic winemaker Reenen Borman of Patatsfontein and Boschkloof fame. I grew up drinking the wines made by his father Jacques Borman, who worked at Simonsig until 1984 before moving to the Rupert Family’s La Motte Estate.


Working at La Motte until 2003, who can forget the peppery, savoury, spicy old world inspired Shiraz wines Jacques made there including the first ever Platter 5 star Shiraz. Even his Millennium Bordeaux blend was an accomplished wine winning multiple international awards. While the Boschkloof wines have taken the industry by storm, none more so than the Epilque Syrah, with its recent 98 point score from critic Tim Atkin MW,  it’s the quirky venture from Keisie Valley, Montagu that has caught my attention. 


Growing up in the Cape in the late 70s, many a family weekend was spent in Montagu swimming in the famous hot springs. Never did I imagine the name would become synonymous with fine wine one day! This new venture was formed between Reenen Borman, together with financier Henk Kotze and Fritz Schoon, a Stellenbosch baking businessman who also has a family farm in Montagu, where a small 0.6ha 30 year old Chenin Blanc vineyard is located. 


I understand we have Chris “Butch” Alheit, from Alheit Family Wines, to thank for tracking this Montagu vineyard down and identifying its long term potential, allowing for the fruit to be pulled out of the local co-op blend. Well done Butch.


I look forward to reviewing both the Patatsfontein Steen (Chenin Blanc) 2015, first tasted in Cape Town back in March, and the Boschkloof Epilogue in the near future but also watching how this “N Versnit Wit” Patatsblanc helps change local and international perceptions surrounding the humble Colombard grape.


Tasting Note: The Patatsblanc 2015 is a 90% Colombard and 10% Chenin Blanc blend but is not a second wine to the Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc. It’s a serious effort in its own right and shows fine floral notes of white blossoms, orange peel, crunchy white peaches, and a faint complexing hint of stem ginger. In its youth, it’s braizenly tight and linear with peppery pithy yellow fruits, dusty gravel minerality and fine fresh acidity. Being under screw cap surely intensifies its taughtness. As it develops in the glass, a few more honied, yellow stone fruits develop coming from the Chenin Blanc component. The texture remains elegantly tightly coiled and slightly glassy as it slips down the throat. This wine is very juicy and moreish and I can see it blossoming into something even more complex and intriguing with perhaps another year or two in bottle. Drink now or comfortably over 5+ years. (Wine Safari Score: 91+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)