Long gone are the days where “The other side of the mountain” (the Breedekloof River Valley) is seen as a dull and hot region without a story. Thanks to the efforts of a group of Breedekloof winemakers, the image of the Breedekloof River Valley has been boosted and sparked new interest in this region with its fantastic variety of Chenin Blanc wines. This, and much more, was revealed at the recent #soundofchenin event that was held at Homage 1862 in Cape Town. During the event, which featured spectacular Chenin Blancs, winemakers from the Breedekloof Makers introduced their wines with song – each winemaker expressing his/her wine with a different song.
The Breedekloof Makers, a group that consists of 12 winemakers, focus specifically on Chenin Blanc and its many guises. By putting the best possible quality Chenin Blanc in the bottle, this group can speak with a voice that commands respect and that resonates not only in South Africa, but also the rest of the world!
As far as the history of this organisation goes, it was established in 2014 and what was initially dubbed the Breedekloof Chenin Blanc Initiative is now known as the more market friendly and pronounceable Breedekloof Makers. The featured Chenin Blancs are:
- Bergsig Estate Chenin Blanc Reserve
- Badsberg Chenin Blanc
- Botha Cellar Barrel Fermented Bush Vine Chenin Blanc
- Breëland Chenin Blanc Royal
- Deetlefs Reserve Chenin Blanc
- Lateganskop The Zahir
- Merwida Chenin Blanc
- Olifantsberg Chenin Blanc
- Opstal Carl Everson Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc
- uniWines Vineyards Daschbosch Steen
- Slanghoek Legends Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc
- Stofberg Family Vineyards Mariëtte Chenin Blanc
De Wet Lategan of Bergsig Estate says that the Breedekloof Makers had small beginnings and the initial meetings and talk of an organisation started in 2014 when a series of Chenin Blanc tastings kicked off. “We decided that each member would make only three barrels and that we would use no yeast or malolactic bacteria and that grapes from old vines will be used. We wanted to make a style of Chenin Blanc that embodies the Breedekloof area, but with minimal intervention.
“Early on we realised the importance of collaboration and the fact that one organisation has a stronger and more focused voice than individual producers. And by collaborating, we started chipping away at the image of the Breedekloof River Valley and Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc is very well suited to the South African growing conditions and this allows us to make great Chenin Blancs. We are moving away from the ‘cheap and cheerful’ image and instead are embracing and promoting a style that is more similar to that of Chardonnay in terms of complexity and ageability.
“We have come a long way and are dispelling myths that the grapes from the Breedekloof River Valley is only suited for brandy and sweet wine. Also, it is a myth that our area is seen as warm and dry. Our climate is quite similar to that of the Napa Valley and is characterised by a slow ripening period, high rainfall and good soil.”
By moving away from the light and fruity image of Chenin Blanc and placing more focus on making complex and high value Chenin Blanc, the Breedekloof Makers are moving in the right direction. This is achieved by producing delicate Chenin Blanc wines with depth, elegance and complexity. And this is a tune wine aficionados all over the world can sing to.