About three years ago, i discovered Ian Naudé. I've touched on some of our stories here, here and elsewhere. There will be more, I'm sure. I was drawn to him immediately, because he's not like all the others, so to speak. He marches to his own tune. A breath of fresh air, he also makes some absolutely riveting wines.
One of those is his 2013 Old Vine Chenin Blanc. It's a truly unique expression of this varietal, and i believe one of the finest South African white wines ever made. In fact, respected Master of Wine, Greg Sherwood gave it about a million points, calling it one of his wines of the year in 2016. For me, it's flinty, focused, fresh and reminds me of some very fine Burgundies. A revelation.
In short, i don't think many people would pick it as a South African wine, let alone a Chenin Blanc. If you don't like the varietal, there's every chance you'll love this. If you do like Chenin, same thing. None of the sweetness or flabbiness you might associate with the new (old?) darling of the South African wine scene.
I don't know what Ian does in the cellar. I'm not sure he knows either. But he does it consistently, and the wines that come out of there are complex, precise and delicious. They are born with amazing acidity, which makes them age-worthy. And they just continue to develop into these magnificent, minerally wonders. His 2015 Old Vine Chenin is another example of this. Released in 2017, this wine has evolved beautifully, showing us what a few years of bottle age can do. She's taking after her sister.
At this point, it's tempting to delve into full-on wine geekery, but I'm going to reign myself in a bit, go easy on the descriptors and just explain what Ian's 2013 Old Vine Chenin means to me: I remember every time I've had the wine. I vividly recall its taste at the strangest moments. I could pick it out of any line-up. I share it with my favourite people. With my family. With people that love wine. I open it on very special occasions. I leave it open for days and let it develop. I mostly smash it all at once. It's the wine that turned me from a casual wine drinker into a hopeless loser.
I only have a few bottles of it left. Which is a problem, because there are very few bottles available anywhere. If i find it, i buy it. If you find it, i highly recommend you do the same.