Golden Slopes Chenin Blanc 2019 - AA Badenhorst - Swartland, South Africa 75cl
GRAPE: CHENIN BLANC
COUNTRY: SOUTH AFRICA
BOTTLE SIZE: 75CL
THE WINEMAKER: AA BADENHORST
As far as we know, no one has yet produced a vaccine to protect against Adi Badenhorst. So contagious is his lust for life that you can't help but be infected by it, whether it means you find yourself bundled into the back of his Silverado and taken on a bone-rattling tour of his vineyards or dragged into his cellar to lend a hand with the blending. Not so much a winemaker as a force of nature, he handed in his notice after 10 honourable years at Rustenberg to launch his own label A. A. Badenhorst Family Wines.
One often hears wine merchants saying that winemakers like to let the wines speak for themselves. Well, Adi's wines would be lucky to get a word in edgeways. He is a fast-talking, quick-witted, warm-hearted kind of guy; a blend of one half talent, one half intuition and one half rock star. Like our understanding of fractions, Adi's grasp on the precise technical specifications of his wines is not his strongpoint, but his aim is not perfection but personality. He may not be able to quote tartaric acid levels on request, but he is on first name terms with each of his vines. If you want to drink wines with soul that were made using gut feel rather than technical recipes, then this is definitely where you should be focusing your attention.
Today, Swartland is buzzing like California during the Gold Rush, except the lure is grapes not gold. Its fabulously old bush vines are attracting the country's most pioneering winemakers, who have been drawn to the rich variety of organically-farmed, low-yielding vines - a legacy from the early settlers in the region. Fantastic, but previously neglected, old vineyards are being brought back to life by winemakers, such as Adi, Eben Sadie, Chris Mullineux and Marc Kent.
Adi took over an ancient winery in the up-and-coming Paardeberg area of Swartland that had been built in the 1800s and had last been used in the 1930s. This meant fashionable concrete tanks and, according to the 2009 Platter Guide, a sizeable bat population. Even more importantly, they acquired 35 hectares of mature, dry-farmed bush vines, which clearly deliver great quality and complexity.
The A.A. Badenhorst Family labels seem to have divided a few people (we happen to love them!), but we thought we would mention a few details that are quite endearing. On the front label, there are a pair of secateurs on the right-hand edge, which mark the halfway point of the bottle. This was inspired by a traditional drink in the region called Oom Tas (see below), which the farm workers used to share after a hard day's work. To avoid arguments, Oom Tas made a mark on the label to show when half the bottle had been drunk. When they took the halfway mark off the label, sales plummeted, so they quickly put it back again! Beneath the vintage on the A.A. Badenhorst front label are two flowers, which represent the male and the female flowers of the vine and on the back label, Adi has cunningly transformed the boring bar code into a reed bed.
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