Browse Tag

ken forrester


Ken Forrester 2010 Chenin Blanc “Reserve” (Stellenbosch) – Burnished lemon, nectarine, peach, and even a bit of ripe papaya. This is the goofy fruitiness for which South African chenin is both praised and derided. But hold up. There’s wax and minerality, there’s good acidity, and I have precedent to assure the doubtful that, with some age, this turns into the waxed honeysuckle, pollen, and quinine that chenin shows at its best. No, I don’t think it will age like Vouvray, or Montlouis, or even a quarter as long as the better examples of either. But the easy appeal of the fruit hides a much more interesting wine, and in contrast to the grape’s banks-of-the-Loire profundity, this will reach its more mature realms much, much more quickly. (5/12)

Arboreal Ken

Ken Forrester 2009 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Of all the chenins I tasted in South Africa (and I tasted a lot), this was the most exciting. Not in this exact form or vintage, but in the form of an older bottle pulled as an apology for their being out of the sought-after botrytized version from this same winery. The excitement came because in a few short years the wine had veered sharply in a Loire-ward direction, developing wax, quinine, and chalk notes that I hadn’t seen in anyone else’s chenins. Now, to be fair, I didn’t taste many more with any age whatsoever, but as the two dominant methods of chenin blanc production in the country are fresh-’n’-fruity-’n’-cheap or “seriously” oaked (a terrible idea, I might add, though Ken Forrester’s “FMC” version is the least offensive of the offensive lot), I certainly don’t expect to see it very often. That said, after I tasted and liked the aged version, I realized I hadn’t paid much attention to its younger form.

So here it is, and I’ve encountered it a lot since that visit to Stellenbosch. I wouldn’t say it’s clear that there’s a bright and complex future for the wine from its initial notions, but one can at least see how that future develops. There’s a restraint and subtlety to the wine not often found in the area’s chenin blancs (or white wines in general), a fine structure, and – I think this is where the key difference lies – a gravelly texture to the wine that I think heralds the organoleptic minerality to come. It’s very appealing in its youth, but I think youthful guzzling is what the same winery’s “Petit” bottling is for. Put this one away for a while. I think you won’t regret it, if past performance is any indicator. (8/11)

The Forrester for the treeser

Ken Forrester “Petit” 2009 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Sunfruit, sweet white peach, smooth-textured and round. Such a pretty little wine, ideal for crowds (especially crowds on a budget). (7/11)

Forrester for the treeser

Ken Forrester “Petit” 2009 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Sunny stone fruit with something perfumed – lavender? no, not that strong – and, as usual, delicious, though there’s a faintly syrupy hint starting to develop. This was never intended to be an ager, anyway. (8/10)

Forrester research

[bottle]Ken Forrester 2006 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – South Africa is full of sunny, inexpensive chenin that expresses a round, fat-faced fruit that’s absolutely irresistible, and also of overly-ambitious oaked versions that manage to be more interesting than most similarly-constructed New World chardonnays, but perhaps aren’t the best use of chenin blanc. Very, very few wines straddle a middle ground, but here’s one, and it’s a beauty. Richer than it would be from the Loire, and youthfully simple, but with familiar honey, chalk, wax, and quinine at a nudged-up volume, yet balanced and pure. I’ve had this with a little age (albeit from younger vines), and the expected characteristics of aging chenin were indeed on display, to the wine’s benefit. I have high hopes for this wine. (1/10)


[bottle]Ken Forrester “Petit” 2008 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Sweet apricot and a hint of banana skin, but not a tropical fruit-salad wine; rather, sunny, polished, and summery fruit, clean and simple. There’s just enough acid, and maybe even the suggestion of chalk…though that may be self-suggestion. A wine for now, now, now. (7/09)

Mr. T

Ken Forrester 2005 “T” Noble Late Harvest (Stellenbosch) – From 375 ml, 100% chenin blanc, 115.7 g/l residual sugar, 14.5% alcohol. Holy Mother of God, is this sweet. Pure syrup of botrytized chenin, represented as mixed tropical fruits, dried apricots, and blended sugars and honeys of every sort. Aromatically, hints of a pan-Mediterranean fruitiness and herbality add complexity, and the acidity’s not bad at all, though of course it trembles in, and cannot emerge from, the shadow of this much sugar. Very, very, very long, and not just as a result of stick-and-cling. Intense and frankly fantastic, but in a highly particular style that will definitely not appeal to everyone. I’d love to revisit this in a few decades. Also: not even close to cheap. (2/09)


Ken Forrester 2008 “Petit” Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – While the whitish-yellow fruit here is fairly soft, it’s a good deal heftier and more present than base-level chenins usually are; this would appear to be a signature of Stellenbosch chenin, which picks up weight that it rarely attains elsewhere except in extreme late-harvest conditions. It’s not overweighted, though, and at a good price it’s a quite fair bargain. It doesn’t endure careful attention, but it’s not intended to. (1/09)