- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003

Mulderbosch, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2002, $15

Winemakers from only a couple of places in the world take chenin blanc seriously. Most growers treat it as a workhorse, capable of yielding large crops and producing cheap, innocuous, faintly sweet wines. Only in the Loire Valley in France and in the Cape region of South Africa do a substantial number of vintners give this variety the respect it deserves. By limiting yields in the vineyard and working meticulously in the winery, they produce wonderfully complex, complete white wines.

While the most renowned chenins are off-dry if not downright sweet, many fine wines are dry and, so, well-suited to drinking with a meal. Loire versions tend to be slow maturing, but South African renditions can be delicious young. This one, from the well-respected Mulderbosch winery, is an excellent example.

Marked by a melange of fruit flavors, redolent of limes, lemons, pears, and even bananas, this wine gains complexity through a distinctly spicy undertone reminiscent of nutmeg and maybe cinnamon. Although dry, with a firm structure, the wine is so fruity and friendly that it seems sweetly succulent.

Drink this expressive wine with dishes that themselves have a sweet, spicy edge.

Pork tenderloin with a ginger chutney comes to mind.

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