I have a love affair with Chenin Blanc, particularly hailing from South Africa, and I just love this. Wonderfully crafted, seriously impressive wine. With a wine label like this one, I half expected something pretty funky – perhaps on the orange scale/very tannic, or unfiltered and mega cloudy. Not to say I don’t like these wines – I’m one of their biggest advocates – but this wine isn’t about that. It’s extremely complex, and a serious wine, which arguably has something old school about its style. Saying that, it is extremely creative/new wave in its winemaking – I can’t say I’ve ever come across a wine made in this way before.
Gorgeous, soft orange peel on the nose, with apricot, peach and almond/hazelnut notes appearing on the palate with a little nutmeg present too. It’s deliciously rich, but balanced: weighty, but not overly heavy. It has a lovely saline minerality on the finish – I would guess from the flor. Although very ripe, it has lovely fresh acidity running through which leads me to think this will definitely cellar well.
About the wine
The Smiley refers to the African slang word for the leftover meat on a sheep’s head, which is a local delicacy (the wines I write about at the moment seem to have a meat theme going on – referring to my previous HAGGIS)
It is a wholebunch wine, pressed in a basket press. From Chenin Blanc, it’s aged 30% in a Nomblot egg and 70% tank fermented. Indigenous yeasts, with just a tiny amount of sulphur.
A non-vintage blend (meaning it doesn’t come from one particular year), this wine has been selected over four vintages from 2013-16. Part is aged under flor, and some is madeirised ‘sun wine’. It’s a complex little beast.
A Swartland producer, made by Ryan Mostert and partner Samantha Suddons. Yet another one that shows just how good this region combined with innovation can be. They produce Chenin & Cinsault, naturally fermented in 670l Nomblot concrete eggs. Smiley NVs: Chenin & Red Blend. Minimal intervention wines to optimally express a sense of terroir.