Raats Chenin Blanc 2008
Chenin Blanc from South Africa
This sublime bottling from Chenin master Bruwer Raats sets the standard for South African Chenin Blanc. The grapes are sourced from three distinct old vines parcels in Stellenbosch, all characterized by complex soils of Table Mountain sandstone and decomposed granite. Rich and intense, this profound wine strikes a perfect balance between elegance and power. It offers luscious flavors of honeyed pear, butterscotch, citrus, and ginger, with hints of mineral and spice that carry through on the lengthy finish.
International Wine Cellar - "Medium yellow. Ripe, musky aromas of honey, wildflowers, butterscotch candy and ginger. Then surprisingly dry and youthful on the silky palate, with a rather laid-back texture and excellent depth. Finishes tactile and long, with intriguing stone fruit flavors. This would still benefit from a year or so of additional aging. Three-quarters of this wine (the portion from granite soil) was done entirely in stainless steel, while the 25% from sandstone soil was fermented and aged in 300-liter French oak, 20% of which was new. 90(+?) points. "
Raats Family Wines, founded in 2001 by brothers Bruwer and Jasper Raats, is focused solely on crafting world class Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, best known as the premier grapes of France's Loire Valley. The small, family-owned winery has quickly established itself as a New World leader in the production of these two varietals, garnering tremendous critical acclaim – including consistent 90+ ratings – and a dedicated fan base.
Raats is truly a family operation, and the clan firmly believes that South Africa's proliferation of older Chenin Blanc vineyards provides a unique opportunity to craft terroir-driven wines that serve as international benchmarks for the varietal. Raats owns several hectares of estate vineyards in the Polkadraai Hills. In addition, they source Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc from several extremely low-yielding old vines parcels where Bruwer maintains complete control of viticulture. These sites are characterized by complex soils of sandstone and decomposed granite.
For Bruwer, the greatest part of crafting wines under your own label is that "you don't have to worry about shareholders or catering to a market, or to keeping within a cellar's style. You can have freedom of expression in something that you believe in." The Raats family continues to win over hordes of thirsty consumers worldwide with their passionate belief in the classic, versatile and decidedly stylish varietals of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. View all Raats Wines
About South AfricaView a map of South Africa wineries South AfricaRelated Links:
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A long history of growing grapes and making wine, but less of a history on exporting it, and even lesser on the quality aspect. At the turn of the century (1900, that is), a surplus of wine in South Africa created a hierarchy of cooperatives, the biggest and best known being KWV. This organization seemed to favor quantity over quality and had most control over wines and vineyards until the late 1980's. Now, with a bit more competition, quality is coming around. Yet, South African wine was not even seen in American wine stores until the mid-1990's – the trade embargo on the country for their racial apartheid laws kept South African wine out of the US. When apartheid fell, so did the embargo, and SA bottles began showing up on US shelves.
White wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, much of it the Steen variety – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape gaining some raves is Sauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends was once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, which used to be a grape only your mother could love, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. The most popular regions of the country include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
About South AfricaRelated Links:
Notable FactsWhite wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, the majority of it is Steen – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape the critics rave aboutSauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends were once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, a man-made crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. In describing red wines in South Africa, smoky and meaty are two terms that are common. Regionally, the most popular wine-making areas include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.