MAN Chenin Blanc ($8.99)
From the producer:
"Chenin Blanc thrives in the Mediterranean climate, deep soils and bush-vine vineyards of our region. We use only the free-run juice (no pressing of the grapes) to preserve its clean and natural character, refreshing acidity and delicious ripe fruit flavours.
A crisp, expressive, light-bodied wine. Light straw in appearance. Vibrant aromas of quince, pear and pineapple. On the palate, fresh stone fruit and apple flavours are backed by refreshing acidity, minerality and a well-rounded mouthfeel. A versatile food wine that will pair well with poultry, shellfish and vegetable dishes. Also, fabulous as an aperitif for a hot summer afternoon. Great to drink now, but ages beautifully over 2-5 years. Serve chilled."
Chenin Blanc, also known as "Steen" in South Africa, is the most planted varietal in that country, and arrived there in the late 17th century. If you've had Vouvray, you've had Chenin Blanc, but in the warmer climate of South Africa the wine is very different from its Loire Valley cousins. There is still crisp acidity, but the fruit profile tends toward ripeness and tropical notes. This particular wine is dry-farmed (no irrigation), grown on bush vines (rather than trained on wires), and is not pressed--the weight of the grapes in the vat squeezes the juice out without mechanical force. This is a really good introduction to South African Chenin Blanc at an outstanding price.
Aslina Chardonnay ($19.99)
From the producer:
Aslina Wines is the realisation of a dream for South Africa’s first black woman winemaker, Ntsiki Biyela. Launched in 2016, the Aslina brand is named after Ntsiki’s grandmother, whose care and guidance provided her with the inspiration and vision to succeed. Ntsiki’s ambition is to create quality wines. After 13 years as winemaker and ambassador for boutique winery Stellekaya, she continues her journey of inspiration by starting her own brand, Aslina Wines. There are currently four different wines under the Aslina range: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Umsasane, a Bordeaux blend.
Ntsiki Biyela’s deep belief is that winemaking is an expression of love and passion. She fervently supports the idea that winemaking should respect the gifts and riches offered by nature and that these should be savoured and enhanced while offering the least interference.
Therefore the philosophy of Aslina is to make sure that its wines are produced to reflect nature’s offerings as closely as possible, merely providing a light hand of guidance to bring out their innate beauty. In that way, the journey of each wine, from vineyard to glass, tells its own unique story. A good wine is any wine that excites your palate, everyone's palate is different so the most important questions are: do I enjoy it and if so, why ?
A complex chardonnay, creamy , round and soft. Partial wooding gives this wine the edge and to show the beautiful tropical fruit and limy character. Slight buttery character showing on the palate. Good acidity balancing the fruit and wood."
I could not be more pleased to carry Aslina wines. They are a completely different expression of South Africa than I have yet tasted, and they are a wonderful introduction to what upper-level winemaking is like in that country. Ntsiki Biyela has really put her own touch on these wines and has become a standout in the field. This Chardonnay will be unlike any you've tasted--it is distinctly South African but uniquely Ntsiki's.