It is no secret that I adore Chenin Blanc. In fact, I think my blood group might be Chenin. I am always on the lookout for new examples and recently discovered the Opstal Estate Carl Everson 2012.
Made from 33 year old vines, naturally fermented and matured in old oak French barrels with minimum intervention in the cellar, the Slanghoek terroir is brought to the fore in this new release Premium Chenin Blanc.
The Opstal Estate, situated in picturesque Rawsonville, originated in 1847 when JC Rossouw first acquired the farm named De Opstal bij de Fonteine. Initially the soil on the farm was used for grazing and gardening, and unfortunately there is no record of when the first vineyards were planted. Back in the day all the farms in the Slanghoek Valley had their own small wineries. Grapes were picked in cane baskets and taken to the wineries on horse driven carts. Later the wine was again transported by wagons to the local and national merchants, where rebate wine and dessert wine was made.
It was in 1950 that Carl Everson, fourth generation descendant and great grandfather of the current winemaker, Attie Louw, began running the farm.
In a bold move, Carl decided to make his own wine instead of joining the local co-op winery as well as producing sherry for the Sedgwick and Taylor company, a decision taken with belief not only in himself and his vineyards, but in the generations that would follow in his footsteps.
Carl Everson passed away in July 1970, at which stage Attie and Ansie Louw took over the reins and, ultimately, the destiny of Opstal. Carl Everson only had two daughters, of which Ansie Everson was the heir to the Estate.
Modernization of the winery was very important and in 1974 the old winery was rebuilt and in 1978 the first wine under the Opstal Estate label was produced and marketed in the local arena.
The result is a wine boasting complex notes of white peach, squashed pineapple and pear on the nose, whilst the palate is well rounded due to ten months on the fermentation lees, yet a balanced acidity retains the fresh elegance of this varietal.
“We always knew that this specific Chenin Blanc vineyard was special, bearing fruit loaded with complex flavours and wine with a beautiful elegance in structure,” says winemaker Attie Louw. “As early as 1987 this vineyard received the accolade as the champion vineyard block in South Africa.
This is a premium vineyard from which a premium wine was made. It is thus a great honour and privilege to name this Chenin Blanc, the first wine in our Heritage Range, after our great grandfather, Carl Everson”.
* The Premium Chenin Blanc, Carl Everson is available at Vino Pronto, Wine Cellar and Wine Concepts in Newlands, retailing for approximately R120.