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The Wine Society’s Generation Series South African Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch 2023

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Over the past 50 years, South Africa has taken chenin blanc from its home in the Loire Valley and made it their own. Now the most planted grape in the country, it’s been a mainstay in Society Lists for decades. To celebrate Cape chenin we’ve commissioned long-term friends of The Society, Radford Dale, to create a bespoke blend for us to mark our 150th. Using a large proportion of Stellenbosch fruit, this chenin shows typical citrus and stone-fruit flavours with impressive weight and freshness. Worth decanting for 20 minutes or so to allow it the aromas and flavours to unfurl. For a video message from the winemaker, and for more on the story of this wine, please scroll down.
Price: £11.95 Bottle
Price: £143.00 Case of 12
In Stock
Code: SA21201

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • 2 - Dry
  • Chenin Blanc
  • 75cl
  • Now to 2025
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • no oak influence
  • Screwcap

More on the wine

The chenin blanc grape was taken to the Cape by French Huguenot settlers over 350 years ago, and it remains the most widely planted grape in South Africa, its naturally high acidity maintained even in warmer climates. For years it served as a cheap and cheerful, high-production wine, which did not do the Cape, or chenin, many favours. But chenin lends itself, in the right hands and locations, to the full spectrum of styles, from sparkling wine and crisp dry white, through serious full-bodied whites to intensely sweet dessert wines, many of which have tremendous ageing potential. It is this versatility and durability which makes chenin blanc one of the great white wine grapes of the world.

So, which style to choose for our 150th Anniversary wine? We wanted a chenin that would sit between our two existing own label wines, The Society’s Chenin Blanc, from Villiera estate, and The Society’s Exhibition Chenin Blanc, made for us by Chris Alheit. We opted for a classically styled Stellenbosch chenin that combines fresher unoaked wine with a barrel-fermented/wood-aged component for palate weight, texture and complexity. It was made for us by Radford Dale, producer of our new Society’s South African Pinotage Syrah, and Alex Dale’s award-winning winemaking team headed by Cellarmaster Jacques de Klerk. It was bottled in November 2023.

Radford Dale

From its modest base just outside Stellenbosch, Radford Dale delivers a large and impressive range under a number of labels, notably The Winery range (offering excellent-value benchmark examples) and the more premium and stylish Radford Dale wines. Most are single varietals, and all differ from the brawny Cape norm.

Many hands and different nationalities contribute to the success story here. Shareholders include Yalumba in Australia and French and English winemaking expertise in the shape of Edouard Labeye and Alex Dale, who founded the company in 1998, and whose Burgundian training formed his early love of and deft hand with chardonnay and pinot noir.

Vineyard sources range from the farm's own vineyards in the Helderberg area of Stellenbosch (where the ocean provides cooling breezes to the mountainside chenin blanc vines, which are planted granite and clay soils, and are up to 50 years old), as well as cool-climate Elgin for pinot noir, and southern-Rhône-like Swartland soils for old-vine carignan, grenache and mourvèdre.

The first bottlings were in 1998 and change and development has been a constant since, including the Land of Hope wines which support a trust established to benefit previously disadvantaged employees and their families. Social and environmental responsibility is central to the philosophy here and The Winery is accredited BEE (Black Economic Empowerment), IPW (Integrated Production of Wine) and WIETA (The Wine Industry Ethical Trading Association).

Some...
From its modest base just outside Stellenbosch, Radford Dale delivers a large and impressive range under a number of labels, notably The Winery range (offering excellent-value benchmark examples) and the more premium and stylish Radford Dale wines. Most are single varietals, and all differ from the brawny Cape norm.

Many hands and different nationalities contribute to the success story here. Shareholders include Yalumba in Australia and French and English winemaking expertise in the shape of Edouard Labeye and Alex Dale, who founded the company in 1998, and whose Burgundian training formed his early love of and deft hand with chardonnay and pinot noir.

Vineyard sources range from the farm's own vineyards in the Helderberg area of Stellenbosch (where the ocean provides cooling breezes to the mountainside chenin blanc vines, which are planted granite and clay soils, and are up to 50 years old), as well as cool-climate Elgin for pinot noir, and southern-Rhône-like Swartland soils for old-vine carignan, grenache and mourvèdre.

The first bottlings were in 1998 and change and development has been a constant since, including the Land of Hope wines which support a trust established to benefit previously disadvantaged employees and their families. Social and environmental responsibility is central to the philosophy here and The Winery is accredited BEE (Black Economic Empowerment), IPW (Integrated Production of Wine) and WIETA (The Wine Industry Ethical Trading Association).

Some ingenious environmentally minded practices are employed. For instance, the team combats the rodent problem in the vineyard not with poison, but by installing bird of prey perches to encourage hunting. They also deter deer (who are great grape fans) by placing dog hair from a local grooming salon amongst the vines, as the smell makes them too scared to venture close enough to feed.

Cellar expansion and a visitor tasting room are planned, but the main focus is the wines, aiming for minimal intervention in the cellar, lower alcohols, and less oak than in the past. Radford Dale is one of the founders and original 15 PIWOSA (Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa) members.
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