How Good is L’Avenir Single Block Chenin Blanc?
Wine Review of 2016 L’Avenir Winery Single Block 30 Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa
This white wine by Stellenbosch winery L’Avenir is made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes from a single vineyard and is part of the producer’s Single Block series.
The 2.0-ha vineyard (5 acres), planted in Chenin Blanc in 1973 is the oldest on the estate, and the winery claims it would be in fact the oldest in South Africa still used for vinification.
Located in a cooler pocket of the farm with a southerly aspect and neighboring a dam, the pour soils require irrigation during the hot summer months. Thanks to the proximity to a body of water, in certain years the block is prone to a touch of carefully monitored Botrytis infection that promotes the production of a complex and concentrated wine.
After a short skin contact (3 hours) and pressing, the Chenin Blanc must saw its fermentation started in stainless steel tanks for a few days before being transferred to both Acacia barrels and French oak barrels for the rest of the fermentation. Ageing took place in the same Acacia and French oak barrels, with weekly lees stirring (battonage) for about 12 months.
So, How Good is L’Avenir Single Block Chenin Blanc?
This South African Chenin comes in a characterful lemon-yellow color, filled with a heap of gold hues, making it both shiny and rather intense. Somewhat of a statement the wine makes straight from its appearance, as it looks like a racy barrel-aged white wine.
The nose confirms we are indeed with a wine that has been in contact with oak. Dominant aromas are those of honey, lemon liqueur, beeswax, and dried pineapple. It’s oaky and elegantly evolved, featuring clear vanilla and a definite waxy feel. But the whole smells fresh and vibrant thanks to fresh citrus and tropical notes of mango.
Nutmeg and clove spices things up, for a rather complex nose.
Put the wine in your mouth, and you’re met by a dry white wine, with a refreshing crisp acidity, but with an opulently rich body and a coating oily texture. Flavors are bursting with oaky and buttery intensity. Oily and rich toasted hazelnut flavors, buttery caramel, and discrete sweet vanilla, marry explosive notes of caramelized warm pineapple, candied apple, and zesty lime liqueur.
The wine lets itself taste and enjoy seamlessly, with an abundance of flavors and aromas.
It’s so balanced it’s easy to approach and sip nonchalantly. The long and layered finish reminds us we are here with a complex and rather deep wine one should take the time and attention to appreciate fully.
Both an elegant and a powerful side this Chenin Blanc wine from South Africa features.
It’s powerfully and authoritatively aromatic, filled with oaky, spicy, and citrus and tropical fruity aromas, but all delivered with finesse.
A controlled and precise expression is packed in a concentrated, very well balanced white wine.