Dancing with golden light, a kaleidoscopic spectrum of flavour, made to achieve its full potential over time.
Vondeling Wines has extended their limited-release Bowwood range with the launch of a full-bodied, natural-fermented wooded Chenin Blanc – a luxurious wine that winemaker Matthew Copeland calls a “kaleidoscopic experience”.
Bowwood Chenin Blanc 2019 joins the award-winning Bowwood Pinotage in a duo of wines made to express the site-specific character and outstanding quality of low-yielding single vineyards on Vondeling’s unique Voor-Paardeberg terrain, with a specific focus on producing wines that will evolve into their full potential over time.
Both wines were awarded 4.5 stars – meaning a score of 90 or more and classed as “outstanding” – in the 2021 Platter’s South African Wine Guide ratings released recently. This first accolade for the maiden vintage Bowwood Chenin Blanc 2019, which was submitted for the Platter’s tasting before its public release, is the sign of great things to come, Vondeling winemaker Matthew Copeland believes.
Bowwood is inspired by the oral traditions and folklore handed down over time through generations of Southern Africa’s San tribes and the philosophy behind the label is to explore winemaking styles beyond traditional European references, producing wines that not only exemplify the best of their kind in South Africa but can take their place on an equal footing with the best in the world.
“Chenin Blanc was my first introduction to wine and is still my absolute favourite white wine, so it was a natural extension of what we already do with Chenin Blanc at Vondeling, and an exciting stretch, to make a serious, cerebral Chenin Blanc in the Bowwood ethos, an outstanding fit alongside its red counterpart, the Bowwood Pinotage.
“Bowwood Chenin Blanc 2019 comes from our highest vineyard on the Paardeberg, south-facing and with the steepest, coolest aspect on Vondeling. It’s marginal for some varieties, but a perfect fit for Chenin Blanc. These hardy vines have struggled to thrive, producing low yields of tiny berries with concentrated flavour and vibrant acidity.
“The wine was made to celebrate the vibrancy and singularity of this particular site. Fermentation in oak was a natural decision to increase the wine’s complexity and age-worthiness,” Copeland said.
Bowwood is always made in small batches as a limited release, and less than 2,000 bottles have been made of the maiden Bowwood Chenin Blanc 2019, a wine that offers an intriguing kaleidoscope of ever-changing patterns of light and complex layers of aroma and flavour slowly emerging.
Making a wine of this structure and complexity takes time, said Copeland: “Twenty-two months in all, with nine of those maturing in bottle – a step that we insist on due to the fullness and structure of the wine. Special attention is given throughout to how the wine will mature over time, reflecting the time taken in its making, and we highly recommend additional cellaring to release the wine’s full potential.”
The luxurious fullness and spectrum of aromas and flavours in the Bowwood Chenin Blanc 2019 inspire poetic description.
“Light dances through this wine’s bright, gold leaf colour, bending and reflecting with the hypnotic rhythm of a fresh mountain stream in the late light of summer. A cerebral experience, the wine is initially timid on the nose, but soon explodes kaleidoscopically in the back of the brain. Delicate apricot, yellow pear and cut straw aromas are fabulously supported by denser greengage, crushed cumin, raw almond and wild celery.
“The palate is luxurious and full, with a chalky dryness and vast savoury spectrum. Its mineral freshness showcases honeyed tangerine, roasted corn, ripe quince and sweet cashew. Savoury notes include freshly minced bay leaf and fine ground nutmeg,” says Copeland.
The structure and complexity of Bowwood Chenin Blanc 2019 make it an ideal food-pairing wine, especially with dishes of similar complexity and intriguing flavours – the winemaker suggests exotic combinations such as nut-crusted swordfish and saffron-infused risotto, or crispy, shredded duck on spring onion pancakes with tomato salsa.
Copeland expects the new Bowwood Chenin Blanc 2019 to add to its newly-awarded 4.5 Platter’s stars and mirror the accolades already achieved by Bowwood Pinotage in just four vintages: the 2014 Bowwood Pinotage achieved 4.5 stars in Platter’s South African Wine Guide (2017 and 2018); the 2015 won the Pinotage Trophy in the 2018 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards; and Bowwood Pinotage 2016 claimed a coveted place in the Absa Top 10 Pinotage ranking.
The latest vintage, Bowwood Pinotage 2017, was awarded Gold in the Michelangelo awards last month and last week added a Veritas Double Gold to its 4.5 stars in the 2021 Platter’s South African Wine Guide.
Vondeling is located in the small Voor Paardeberg ward of the Paarl wine district, about 45 minutes from Cape Town, and proudly conserves the indigenous mountain fynbos, some rare and unique to the area. Steep south-facing slopes high up on the Paardeberg mountain, and ancient decomposed granite soils, create a cool-climate effect and vibrancy in the wines in the midst of an otherwise warm climate area.