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[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)

Raats in the belfry

[vineyard]Raats 2008 “Original” Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – An unoaked cuvee. Appealing, sunny fruit, showing hay, gum, and fresh apricot. The texture’s overtly creamy, and while it retains a certainly lightness of spirit, the wine would be improved by a little more acidity. There’s a long, pure finish, and despite the absence of crispness, I really enjoy this wine. (11/08)

Raats 2006 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – The difference between this and the “Original” is the élevage; some of this wine is barrel-fermented, a “world-classing” technique to which my initial reaction is dismay. Chenin shouldn’t need makeup to achieve greatness. And yet, here’s the first volley in South Africa’s attempt to prove me wrong, and I’m already wavering. There are the expected elements of cream, butter, and a more luxurious texture, but there are some surprises as well. For one thing, a salty, iron-rich minerality is brought to the fore. And while the finish is even thicker than in the “Original”, there’s a clear sensation of a greater quantity of balancing acidity. It’s all very mysterious. I still think I’d rather drink the “Original”, but this does make a compelling case for itself. (11/08)

MCC Hammer

Villiera Méthode Cap Classique Brut “Tradition” (Stellenbosch) – A little sweet, almost tasting as if there’s muscat in the mix (I don’t believe there is). Simple and quaffable, but no more. (11/08)

It’s an unfair kop

Kanonkop 1993 Pinotage (Stellenbosch) – Corked. Oddly, this is something no one (including me) realizes the night the wine’s first opened, though it’s apparent on day two, and completely obvious by day three. A shame. (4/09)

Our actions are not dictated by mere lust

[winery]Meerlust 2003 Chardonnay (Stellenbosch) – Very heavy, and losing a battle with its barrel tannin. Quite toasty in proportion to its fruit. Golden fig and peaches in amber are still hanging about, but probably not for much longer. This is a chore to drink. I set it aside for a day, at which point the oak toast has receded and a bit more acidity (which the wine heretofore lacked) has come to the fore, but the oak tannin has strengthened. Drink several years ago, if you must drink it at all. (3/09)

It’s a fair Kanonkop

[logo]Kanonkop 1989 Pinotage (South Africa) – The appellation seems to be as the bottle indicates, though of course under current law this would be from Stellenbosch. The cork is an absolute mess, takes an epic effort to remove in the tiny pieces into which it disintegrates, and by all rights should herald a damaged and prematurely decrepit bottle. But if so, there’s no sign of it in my glass. The wine looks much younger than it is, and tastes so as well, which makes me wonder if pinotage is the South African version of petite sirah…eternally youthful and forever consumed too soon. Quite heavily-fruited still, in the form of a baked fruit compote without distinct elements, though the first stirrings of maturity appear as old, time-burnished furniture and a loamy mushroom quality. Very soft, yet far from unstructured, and seemingly not yet mature by its mouth-filling headiness. Very impressive. (11/08)