Old Vine Chenin Blanc Strikes Gold For Chamonix At Decanter Awards

A Chenin Blanc wine made from a 56-year-old vineyard planted on the mountain vineyards of Chamonix Estate in Franschhoek achieved a 95pt Gold medal rating at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, one of the world’s most influential wine competitions. Chamonix Old Vine Steen 2021 led the way for the estate at this year’s Decanter Awards, which attracted over 18 200 entries from 54 countries.

Chamonix also achieved a commendable 94pt rating for its Chardonnay Reserve 2020 and 93pts for the Chardonnay 2020, wine made from a grape variety for which the estate has become especially recognised over the past 15 years.

According to Chamonix winemaker Neil Bruwer, the estate’s Old Vine Steen has had an exceptional run of ratings and accolades since its maiden 2020 vintage, underscoring the unique wine quality that can be achieved from South Africa’s old vine offering.

“Old vineyard wines definitely have a point of differentiation in terms of texture, structure and palate-weight,” says Bruwer. “In the case of Chenin Blanc, which represents the bulk of South Africa’s old vine category, the age of the vineyard allows the fruit nuances of Chenin to come to the fore while exuding that extra presence and complexity that allows the wine to command attention.”

Chamonix’s Old Vine Chenin Blanc vineyard is planted at 320m above sea-level in loamy apedal soil of sandstone origin. Farmed dryland, this vineyard comprises .58ha with just over 1 700 vines.

According to Bruwer, the Chamonix Old Vine Steen 2021 offers everything a wine-lover would expect from a white wine made from an old vineyard that has lived through a large part of the Cape’s wine history. “Working with the old grapes is an inspiration,” says Bruwer. “Tasting the wine is a revelation. Bright fruit flavours, so characteristic of Chenin Blanc, are evident in the wine. The formidable palate weight, sheer presence and the enormous satisfaction the wine provides as a result of its old vine legacy is marvellous to taste. And more so to be a part of. It is great to see South Africa’s old vine category performing well on the international stage as this is one of the Cape’s unique offerings to the world of wine.”

Bruwer says the two 90pt-plus scores for Chamonix’s Chardonnay is commendable recognition for one of the estate’s flagship varieties.

“Chardonnay has a rich heritage on Chamonix and the variety has shown to perform excellently on our mountain vineyards,” says Bruwer. “This is one of South Africa’s strongest wine categories, not only in terms of the country’s ability to offer terroir-drive Chardonnays of excellence but also due to the growing demand for wines made from this cultivar locally, as well as in international markets. Current re-plantings of Chardonnay on Chamonix underscore the potential we see for this variety as a trump card in the hand of South Africa’s wine offering.”