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(2023) The iconic FMC was one of the Cape's truly great Chenins of the modern era, and this is another gorgeous release. Viticulture is painstaking, Ken explaining that a complex process of filming vines in infra-red to determing they are picking the ripest fruit may be completed eight or nine times depending on the season. Whole bunch pressed and fermented spontaneously in barrels, this is so refined, touches of hessian, almost viognier-like perfume, but then terrific zest and fruit on the concentrated but elegant palate.
(2020) Chris Alheit bought the fruit from this Stellenbosch vineyard with the purpose of using it in one of his blends, but called the Carinus family to say the quality was too good and it should be bottled separately. And so, this first release of the Polkadraai Chenin Blanc, made by Chris for the family, appeared. Chris ferments this with natural yeasts in concrete 'eggs'. It has a beautifully subtle creaminess on the nose, a subtle floral fragrance too, but that stony, dry, lightly earthy character of the natural ferment is there, maybe a touch of honey in the background. In the mouth there is substantial weight, and substantial concentration too, a cool, intense, ripe apple and fat lemony fruit, that saltiness and stony quality pushing through on the acidity in a wine that is subtle and yet concentrated, with the ripeness of the fruit revealed slowly as you sip. The wine is available in-bond at time of review, so an approximate final price per bottle is quoted.
(2019) A wine I have admired for many, many years, FMC is Chenin at its most opulent. From low yielding bush vines planted in 1974, it is harvested at full maturity and fermented with wild yeasts in new 400-litre French oak barrels. Some botrytis is always part of the harvest here, though the 9g/l of residual sugar is easily absorbed by the acidity and structure. Honeyed, nutty and ripe, there's a quince and fig touch to this, before a luxurious palate, rich with honey and nectarine, sheer acidity will ensure longevity too. Price and stockist quoted at time of review are for the latest vintage.
(2019) Some oak on this, but otherwise broadly similar in its style - but everything notched up: creamy, intense, luxurious, but dazzling fruit. More delicately oaked than a typical Pessac, which it reminds me of, but more vibrant and vivacious too. Again from Groenkloof in Stellenbosch.
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