Monday, January 26, 2004

Groote Post, Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region, 2002, $13

Chenin blanc can yield some of the world’s most stylish white wines — floral-scented and fruity and, when well-made, finely focused. Sweet dessert renditions display a succulent honeyed complexity, and drier versions offer an enticing change of pace at the supper table. Some of the best come from South Africa, where nearly a quarter of all the vineyards are planted to this grape.

With so much land under vine, an awful lot of South African chenin goes into cheap jug or box wine, most of which tastes nondescript. When made with care from older vines, however, the wines can be riveting.

Groote Post’s vineyards are on an 18th-century farm in the Darling Hills on the West Coast of the Cape of Good Hope, less than five miles from the Atlantic. The ocean influence gives the grapes plenty of acidity, and the wine has good structure and balance. Unoaked and marked by delicate but expressive summer fruit flavors, it also has impressive length.

Delicious on its own before dinner, this wine complements light fare well. Try it with chicken or seafood salads, fresh shellfish or even sushi. (Imported by 57 Main Street Imports.)

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