Is Chenin Blanc an overlooked white? Perhaps, but it is embraced in South Africa. We dive into a bottle from Swartland to learn more.
Famous French Roots
When the International Drink Chenin Day rolled around, it was a perfect time to open this South African bottle.
South Africa has been producing Chenin Blanc for centuries, although there it is often called Steen. Unfortunately, only a small trickle of South Africa’s best wines make it to the US. There is a flood, though, of lower priced and lower quality South African Chenin Blanc. These wines are often produced by cooperatives and are non-descript compared to the elegant Chenin Blanc wines made by the top producers.
The Force Celeste pushed three buttons for me: Chenin Blanc, South Africa and Swartland. In the last decade, Swartland has emerged as a fine wine region. As a result, I grabbed it immediately when I spotted it on the store shelf.
Chenin is a very accessible grape – it’s easy to enjoy. The Force Celeste is primarily aged in steel tanks to retain the fresh flavors with 20% aged in neutral French oak barrels. The wine spent nine months on the lees (the dead yeast cells and sediment) to impart deeper flavors.
We opened this on a day when it was smothering hot. The Celeste Force has nice pineapple notes with a vein of minerality. There is a lilting twist of acidity.
The wine retails for about $21 and I was able to pick it up for $15. That’s a tasty deal. If you haven’t tried Chenin Blanc before, I suggest you give it a swirl. Force Celeste is a nice bottle to begin your exploration.