Beaumont Chenin Blanc 2020
Jayne had always made small quantities of wine and therefore the decision to start a wine farm and business was in fact out of necessity – they needed a home to cultivate both passion and grapes. Their journey continued as they embarked upon the craft of making wine on the then Compagnes Drift Farm, since renamed Beaumont. The farm was completely transformed by hard work, a spirit for adventure and a proper dose of crazy. The decision to make wine under the family name was life-changing and represented an unconditional commitment to every bottle produced.
Since then, Jayne has cultivated vineyards, crafted wines and art and pursued bee farming. Her three children, Sebastian, Ariane and Lucien, were all born and raised on the farm and so, during any visit to the cellar lunches, tastings, tractor tours and farm hikes, the stories that unfold are rich, funny, and beautiful. These stories form the foundations of the many traditions that have naturally occurred during the years that followed.
Jayne continues to produce a limited amount of Pinot Noir with her own hand-drawn labels.
With an important wine renaissance in full swing, impressive red and white bargains abound in South Africa. The country has a particularly long and rich history with winemaking, especially considering its status as part of the “New World.” In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century.
Today, however, South Africa is increasingly responsible for high-demand, high-quality wines—a blessing to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot. But the Benguela Current from Antarctica provides brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening of grapes. Similarly, cooler, high-elevation vineyard sites throughout South Africa offer similar, favorable growing conditions.
South Africa’s wine zones are divided into region, then smaller districts and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for red-fruit-driven, spicy, earthy reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following close behind.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.