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A UK first release that quite simply wowed us. Integrity by all measures, this new wine combines tasty stone-fruited South African chenin with impeccable social and environmental credentials.
Product Code: SA16821
View all products by Lubanzi
A relatively new and unique venture established by young friends with a travel bug, whose trek in South Africa introduced them to the wandering dog that gave the wines their name. Lubanzi decided to join them on a journey across part of South Africa that ended up being 100 miles and six days long. Charlie Brain and Walker Brown made valued and valuable friends and contacts in the wine industry on their Cape journey and have enjoyed the support and backing of Cape winemaking legends Bruce Jack and Trizanne Barnard from the outset. Their aim was to give back to the community while making wines they can be proud of. They are Integrity & Sustainability Certified and proud to be Fair For Life Fair Trade Certified too, keen to ensure that human rights are safeguarded at every stage of production, so that those who work for them get a fair shake and a fair share. 50% of their net profit is passed on to leading charity, the Pebbles Project, that works with families of South African wine farm workers to access high-quality healthcare and education. The wines are based on hand-harvested fruit from the Swartland, a chenin blanc, and a red blend of shiraz, cinsault, mourvèdre and grenache, both made with minimal intervention and natural yeasts for the fermentation. The white spends time on its lees in stainless steel while the red blend sees some time in large oak casks - foudres - that are less about imparting oaky flavours and aromas and more about rounding out the wine. Wines are also canned and, unsurprisingly but pleasingly, are bottled with labels made from sugar cane rather than paper from trees. These are wines worth following for many reasons.
South Africa is undoubtedly one of the world's most dynamic wine producers. Established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene in the early 1990s, following the demise of the apartheid era, and new wines, wineries, highly qualified winemakers, and even new regions have appeared steadily ever since. This makes South Africa more exciting than ever, but more complicated, too. Most South African wines are varietally labelled - a key factor in any buying decision. Styles vary of course, and our notes aim to clarify this, but you will probably already know whether you like sauvignon blanc (now among the world's best), chardonnay, riesling, syrah, pinot noir, or cabernet.South Africa's most famous grapes - white chenin blanc and red pinotage - will be less familiar unless you are already a convert. South African chenins are quite different from those in the Loire - almost always dry, but ripe and full of flavour (often with the complexity that comes from the increasingly sought-after old-vine fruit and the use of oak). Pinotage, a South African creation, is for many a love-it-or-hate-it grape. Pinotage's 'parents' are pinot noir, which imparts its strawberry aromas and lovely texture in young wines, and more complex, farmyard characteristics in more mature examples, and cinsault, the southern French grape, which adds spice and body. It was developed in South Africa in 1926. Shiraz is now making a name for itself in South Africa with some superb examples bottled varietally and showing characteristics that often places it between the plush New World style pioneered by Australia and classic Rhône balance and elegance.More significant in South Africa than much of the New World (notably New Zealand and Chile) are blends, which make selection more complicated, as the style of the wine is less easy to anticipate. As in Australia and California, however, many of the best wines here are blends - a sign of maturity in the industry. Bordeaux blends were favoured initially but there are increasing numbers of Rhône and southern French influenced blends, including some eclectic mixes, many of which are among South Africa’s best wines.The RegionsThe vineyards of South Africa are at a latitude of about 35o south, with hot, dry Mediterranean-type summers tempered by oceanic influences in the south, particularly the very cold Benguela Current. Much of the country is mountainous or hilly with a multitude of terroirs for winemakers to play with. Soils are ancient and complex, and many and varied from region to region, and even vineyard to vineyard. Rainfall is very varied from one area to another, largely depending which side of a mountain or range a vineyard lies on, and in some parts irrigation is essential. South Africa’s rigorous Wine Of Origin scheme demarcates vineyard areas, including some single vineyards, and guarantees the geographical source of the wine much like the old French appellation contrôllée system recently renamed AOP, though there are no controls on yields and grape varieties as there are in France..Bordeaux-style blends are one of the Stellenbosch region's great strengths. Wines such as Kanonkop's Paul Sauer, Meerlust's Rubicon and Warwick's Trilogy are South African icons, produced over many years, and with proven ageing capacity. The striking Simonsberg mountain names the ward (or area) most highly sought after for these reds, but Stellenbosch produces a wide range of wine styles, from excellent chenin blancs and sauvignons to robust pinotage and Cape Blends.Paarl is its less-well-known neighbour, also warm, and best known for its robust but smooth reds. Franschhoek is understandably one of the most-visited towns in the Cape (with lots of French Huguenot history and some of the best restaurants in the region). It has a number of famous producers, most notably Boekenhoutskloof, but most do not produce exclusively from Franschhoek fruit. Cape Chamonix is an exception we rate highly, producing a wide range of wine styles from bubbly to cabernet franc led red blend Troika.The generally warmer Swartland region has been at the forefront of the development of Rhône varietals in South Africa, led by stars such as Eben Sadie, as well as home to some of the best old chenin blanc vines. Further north, and much cooler is Citrusdal, where fresher styles are produced and chenin blanc can achieve real finesse.The Cape peninsula, to the south of Cape Town itself, is home to Constantia, known for its cooler climate thanks to the influence of the two oceans that almost circle it. Here, sauvignon blanc and the Bordeaux grapes predominate, but there are lovely examples of aromatic varieties too, notably Klein Constantia's elegant riesling and its wonderful sweet muscat Vin de Constance, and the vibrant sauvignon blancs from Cape Point vineyards to the south. Rhône varietals are successful new additions.Elgin, en route to Hermanus, is another very cool region, very much up-and-coming for sauvignon blanc, as is Elim, which is even further south and the source of our former Exhibition Sauvignon. Robertson is almost due north of Elim, but way inland and far hotter. A small number of family producers manage to make excellent sauvignon here, too, but it is also a good source of chardonnay, increasingly pinot noir, and elegantly styled pinotage and Rhône varietals, not forgetting the excellent fortified muskadels which are unique to the Cape.The most important factor in deciding whether or not to buy is often the producer's name. This is easily achieved when some of the grandest 'old' names, such as Meerlust, Hamilton Russell, Kanonkop, and Klein Constantia, still rank among the country's best producers. Where it gets trickier is when the winery is new, has no track record, or the winemaker is not a household name.
With such an inauspicious start to an unforgettable year, few even dreamed of such a good 2020 harvest. It was clear that volumes would be down – which can be good for quality, of course – but the weather brought a few early challenges in the vineyards and the grapes’ normally orderly progression to ripeness turned into quite a scramble. But nature has an astonishing way of managing even multiple challenges, smoothing out extremes to allow mother (vine) to give her very best to her offspring (the grapes). The 2020 harvest was a gift to bring smiles to a troubled industry.
"I like everything about this wine: it's eco credentials, the funky cork but most of all the taste. It's delicious. Love the fact you can also buy it in 250ml cans. We need more producers to do this. Perfect to take to the theatre to avoid poor wine offerings in the interval!"
I would recommend this wine
"Agree with Mr Humble. Not worth it for the price, average chenin that doesn't showcase the SA chenin well. "
"I agree with the last reviewer. Having drunk a lot of South African Chenin Blanc over the years thought this stood up well. Clean, crisp and a bit of complexity. Great value."
"I must've got a different batch to the other two reviewers. I found this a lovely example of a dry, unoaked Chenin, clean and crisp but plenty of flavour. A funky little cork as well! I would happily buy again and think it's good value. "
"OK wine but too sweet for my taste
best with spicy food"
"Yes, the wine seems to have a strong background of social responsibility, which is all to the good, but the bottom line is how does it taste for the price? The answer is, not bad, but not great. There are far better examples of Chenin Blanc from South Africa, even at this price point. It's fruity with typical hints of apple, straw and pear drops but even with relatively low alcohol, a bonus these days as far as I'm concerned, it seems claggy and pretty hard going after the first glass. A decent pub wine perhaps but I wouldn't buy again."
Liverpool Echo 5th Jun 2021
grapes are fermented by natural yeasts
which exist in and around the winery and on the grape skins. The chenin blanc
also had some time on lees (the dead yeast which settles after fermentation).
Enough of the geek talk - wines created this way will develop more
The chenin has a super-fresh acidity with long-lasting stone fruit flavours,
a nudge of green apples and a zip of lemon. - Jane Clare"
matthewjukes.com 5th May 2021
and amazingly fresh and citrusy, this is a vibrant, not lusty, style of
chenin blanc and it will perform elite aperitif, seafood and crustacea duties
with aplomb. - Matthew Jukes"
The Scotsman 1st May 2021
for good-value Cap chenin with social and environmental credentials? This
brand new find by wine buyer Joanne Locke MW is one of the best chenin blancs
I have tasted under £10. Gorgeous fleshy ripeness with creamy leesy notes. - Rose Murray Brown"
Yorkshire Post 10th Apr 2021
is a story behind this brand, involving two American guys who started it all,
links to extremely good winemakers as well as 50 per cent of the profits
going back into the South African wine community. And the wine is terrific.
Ripe melon, pear and peach with a definite streak of lemon on the finish. - Christine Austin"
joannasimon.com 30th Mar 2021
Lemony apricot and peach aromas and
preserved-lemon, apple, straw and savoury flavours around a spine of tingling
acidity. A welcome UK debut from a company with exemplary social and
environmental credentials. -Joanna Simon"
JancisRobinson.com 31st Mar 2021
Mid straw colour. Usefully low alcohol.
Light nose. But juicy, rather saline, unoaked fruit. Good undertow with hints
of Chenin's straw, light honey and apple peel. No hurry to drink this! Good
Vinosaurus 21st Mar 2021
impressive wine with social credentials to match, from a producer new to the
UK market. An equitable supply chain and initiatives to ensure that resources
go back to the families who work on South Africa’s wine farms are laudable.
Fresh apricots and golden delicious apple lead into a delicious, textured
palate that’s well balanced with a refreshing lick of wet stone. It’s also
available in a can at £3.95, making it perfect for picnics. Cans potentially
have an infinite lifespan, providing they are recycled, so good for the
planet as well as people. - David Kermode"
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