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Mulderbosch Steen op Hout Chenin Blanc 2011

The key to unlocking the American market?

What to expect from Mulderbosch now that it is owned by California-based investment company Terroir Capital? For one thing, Chenin Blanc is set to feature prominently – “We want to open up the American dinner table to the variety,” says Charles Banks, part of Terroir’s senior management and formerly co-owner of cult US winery Screaming Eagle.

Production of Chenin Blanc is being ramped up to some 30 000 cases and the wine which sells for R59 a bottle here will be positioned at $16 a bottle in the US. Mulderbosch currently has a good foothold in the US, around 35% of its annual 150 000 case production currently ending up there and the intention is to build on this.

The Steen op Hout Chenin Blanc 2011 includes 3% Viognier. Grapes are sourced from various Stellenbosch and Swartland sites, the average age of the vines being 32 years old. 80% of the wine was tank fermented while the remaining 20% underwent natural fermentation in barrel in a combination of new French and Hungarian oak barrels, before being matured for five months.

The wine shows white fruit on the nose and palate. It’s medium bodied, clean and fresh – sweet upfront before an admirably dry finish (score: 15.5/20). Perhaps not the most exciting expression of Chenin to have ever come out of South Africa but equally unlikely to cause real offence to anybody and therefore I think must be viewed as very canny effort at making significant inroads into the American market.

Comments

  1. Hi C. Dave Hughes has just returned from 2 weeks in the States, Minneapolis specifically, and said that there’s a definite change in the mood towards SA wine. Really positive sentiment on display. He says Chenin is well received as a calling card – but also warned that there is some seriously old stock still on the shelves. Vintages four and five years out of date… Someone is not doing their job! 

  2. Christian says:

    Hi Kwispedoor, I have to say that I think Mulderbosch is in good hands now that Adam Mason has moved across from Klein Constantia and Andy Erickson is consulting. I currently taste the Mulderbosch wines for Platter’s and I thought Faithful Hound 2009 was a vast improvement on some of its immediate predecessors (so much so that I nominated it for 5 Stars) – Erickson advises that he simply excluded the weaker barrels when it came to blending and feels subsequent vintages are even better.

  3. Kwispedoor says:

    I wonder how all this will impact the Faithful Hound, one of the last remaining bastions of classically styled, serious red wine in this country. Is that also going to be lost to slutty, commercial, boring let’s-knock-your-head-off-with-a-bomb-of-a-nose-followed-by-soft-tannin-and-a-hot-finish approach? 

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