Without the efforts of men like Ken Forrestern Chenin Blanc might be scarcely more than a footnote to the country's recent winemaking history, a workhorse grape responsible for vast amounts of forgettably bland white wine.
But this Zambia-born former restaurateur saw beyond the grape's obvious quaffability, placing it firmly at the centre of his resurrection of the historic Scholtzenhof farm on the slopes of Stellenbosch's Helderberg mountain in the early 1990s.
Twenty years on, Ken is known as Mr Chenin' and wines such as The FMC have elevated South African Chenin to classic status, but the Scholtzenhof renaissance is about more than the ugly duckling transformation of an underrated varietal.
The Helderberg vineyards, Ken discovered, also contained what were at the time the only plantings of Grenache in Stellenbosch, dating from 1953 and helping to create what was in 1996 a unique South African blend of Shiraz and Grenache, and which now finds expression in wines such as The Renegade and The Gypsy.
When not revolutionising the South African wine industry, Ken remains a staunch family man, also surrounded by a veritable menagerie of several dogs, horses, stable cats, geese, owls and guineafowl. And he hasn't entirely left his restaurant days behind, Ken part-owns renowned nearby restaurant 96 Winery Road with his brother Allan (also restaurant manager), winemaker Martin Meinert and chef Natasha Wray.
Hand selected – primarily from low yielding, old bush vines (planted in 1974). Harvested at full maturity. 3 tons per hectare.
Natural wild yeast fermentation in new French oak 400 L barrels. Due to repetitive harvesting some botrytis is always present. Maturation on the lees total of 12 months in the barrel.
Superlative Chenin Blanc, rich and complex, layered with dried apricot, vanilla and honey like a delicious liquid pastry.
Enjoy with special friends as an exciting aperitif or with spiced dishes, even mild seafood/shellfish or curries. Great with exotic Eastern spiced foods.