11 January 2010

2008 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc

One of my first wines tasted in 2010 comes from South Africa, a wine producing country that is getting more prominent and interesting with every passing year. I'm still amazed that these wines are so easily available now; in the 80s, South African products including wine were embargoed in the United States and many other western countries, so sampling one would have required a visit to the country or smuggling, as is the case with Cuban cigars. Now, I can even go to the grocery store and buy oranges with stickers that say "South Africa".

The 2008 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc is from the Stellenbosch region. $15, 13.5% abv. 100% Chenin Blanc, called Steen down in the RSA. In fact the text below "Chenin Blanc" in Afrikaans says Steen op Hout (Chenin Blanc on wood), though only 30% of the wine spent six months on a combination of French, Hungarian, and American oak. It's enclosed with a DIAM composite cork. I figure if you're going to use natural cork, you might as well do everything you can to avoid cork taint, and DIAM corks seem like a nice compromise.

Nose of jasmine, lemongrass, and just a touch of minerals. Big round mouthfeel of lemon curd, full fruit, crisp and clean, with a short, tart finish. I've had a few vintages of this wine over the years, and while it's been consistent in quality the price has actually come down a bit--checking around online some states carry it as low as $10, but my notes have it as $20 back in 2005. I'm happy with the middle ground.

While it was too cold for a lekker braai, I opted for stewed pork and a potato bake. Damn tasty, bru. Scalloped potatoes were a mainstay of my childhood table but layers of caramelized onions really make it pop.

Note on the label: few wineries do the vertical label, fewer do it well. Mulderbosch pulls off several interesting techniques with their design. The label is thin and vertical, but extends up the neck and under the foil cap. The stock is textured with a pattern I can't easily show here. The printing itself is etched and reminiscent of currency or stock certificates, and if the bottom seal were actually red wax it would be perfect. But it's close enough, and Mulderbosch achieves that rare feat of being recognizable from across a room full of wine bottles.

8 comments:

fredric koeppel said...

yes, the label is one of those cases of individuality that works; it's interesting, not weird.

I haven't had scalloped potatoes in decades. it was a stable of my mother's fairly limited repertoire.

Benito said...

Fredric,

Like you, I grew up on scalloped potatoes but haven't seen or thought about them in ages. I haven't even encountered pommes boulangère or pommes dauphinoise on a menu. I was just browsing through some South African potato recipes and found something simple that matched the ingredients rattling around in the kitchen.

Really quite nice for a cold winter night, and the nostalgia factor will make you reach for seconds.

Cheers,
Benito

Allison said...

I tasted wine from this producer during a trip to Austin, but I've been unable to find it in Memphis. Can you tell us where you picked it up?

Elizabeth said...

Allison,
Try Buster’s Liquor Store. I've seen it there.
Benito, love this wine!
Cheers!

Benito said...

Elizabeth,

Glad to hear from another fan! Have you tried the Mulderbosch Rosé? It's quite lovely.

Allison,

I picked it up at Wolfchase Wine & Liquor next to the Cordova Costco, but I've seen it at Great Wines and several other shops. Any of them should be able to get it for you within a couple of days, since they all use the same distributors.

You might have to hunt for it a bit, though--nobody really has a dedicated "South Africa" section, so these wines tend to end up on the rack along with Australian or South American wines, or sometimes thrown in the assorted white wine section next to other Chenin Blancs. Every shop organizes things a little differently.

Cheers,
Benito

Allison said...

Great! Thanks you all for the help!

Michael said...

Try the 2007 Mulderbosch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc as well. Mike Dobrovic ia one of the most talented wine makers in South Africa.

Scott said...

Glad to see this reviewed!! I had a chance to visit Mulderbosch when I was in Stellenbosch last year and it was there that I realized that I liked Rose. Great blog Benito, I've been enjoying it.