Crushing on Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc

Words: Crush

Spier, in Stellenbosch, is one of the oldest wine farms in the country with a recorded history going all the way back to 1692. Spier 21 Gables is a range of single varietal wines that represent both the conditions of each vintage and the nuance of terroir. The name pays tribute to the farm’s 300-year winemaking heritage and their unique architectural legacy: an unrivalled 21 Cape Dutch gables.

The effect of terroir

This wine is sourced predominantly from a unique 35-year-old dryland vineyard in Tygerberg, Durbanville. Low yielding and dryland, the vineyard allows a long hang time for a wealth of flavour development, and intense concentration of fruit.

A mere 15 km from the ocean, the vineyard remains cool and fresh.

A portion of fruit is sourced from the Paardeberg adding broadness and texture to the wine. A final component from Stellenbosch provides nuances of tropical fruit and excellent purity. Learn more about Chenin Blanc here.

What to expect from Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc

Opulent and complex, 21 Gables Chenin Blanc offers the perfect balance between citrusy acidity and honey sweetness. The ripe, concentrated grapes for this wine were carefully handpicked.

After crushing, only free-run juice was used and fermented in French oak barrels.

The wine was further matured for another 14 months on the lees. Ranging from 300 to 2500 l in size, and with 60% of them new, the barrels were low in toast and tight grained, perfectly matching the old vine fruit. The oak plays an important role in the 21 Gables Chenin Blanc, adding structure, mouthfeel and particular presence. Fermentation stopped naturally and left a hint of residual sugar.

Meet the Winemaker: Jacques Erasmus, Spier’s Senior White Winemaker

A man of few words, but many eloquent wines, Jacques made his first wine when he was just a kid, using Chenin Blanc grapes found on his parents’ farm near Worcester.

Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc

At Spier, he’s responsible for the 21 Gables Chenin. Jacques’s Creative Block 2 is another triumph in his quiver.

The 2014 vintage of this Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend earned him the prestigious Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award.

For the Love of Chenin

Given that Chenin Blanc was likely the first varietal planted on the Spier estate, it made sense to include it in the 21 Gables range, which pays tribute to the farm’s vinous heritage. The ageing potential of the grape is phenomenal – far more so than Sauvignon Blanc.

Chenin has a beautiful flavour profile: it’s mouthwatering – the glands in your mouth literally start watering.

Very few other varietals have that effect. Depending on which terroir it comes from and how you approach it in the cellar, you can craft wines significantly different in style. 21 Gables Chenin Blanc is a classic food wine, finding full expression when paired with the right dishes.

What to expect with this wine

The nose immediately offers ripe, baked apples and apple pie spice. A combination of savoury notes and pure fruit gives beautiful layers of complexity to a rich entry and powerful palate.

Strewn with yellow fruits and framed by a fine acidity, opulent caramel, vanilla cream and toasted cashews notes line the finish.

Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc

The barrel fermentation and lees contact provides a textured mouthfeel balanced by a touch of residual sugar. This is a full-bodied, seriously structured Chenin Blanc that will age well over the next decade.

Thriving Despite the drought

Despite the Cape having recently experienced the worst drought in living memory, Spier’s Chenin Blanc vines have proven extremely resilient. This is partly thanks to 5-6 m deep root system that suck out the earth’s goodness – both nutrients and water – allowing for the wine’s terroir to be fully expressed and for minerality to shine through.

Older vines also mean thicker grape skins. This intensifies the flavour and means the wine will age well because their tannins act as a natural preservative. It also gives the wine a pleasing waxiness in the mouth.

Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc

A cooler climate, thanks to the vines being fairly close to sea, provides fresh acidity.

2016 was a more challenging vintage compared to 2015. The tricky ripening season and heatwaves were thankfully tempered by the resilience of the old vines and the resulting wine shows wonderful depth, freshness and balance.

What makes 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016 unique

21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016 can sit in your cellar for eight years or even longer. While it can be enjoyed now, it will reward patient drinkers with deepening intensity and complexity of flavours.

Wow factor! The wine’s colour is gorgeous: a bright, yellow-tinged beauty with a slightly golden core.

Pairing Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc

The full-bodied Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc is rich and ripe in style and therefore pairs beautifully with rich dishes. Befitting its heritage, it is an ideal companion to South African cuisine, particularly sweeter and spicier dishes against which it can hold its own: think bobotie, smoorsnoek and waterblommetjie bredie.

It also pairs beautifully with pork belly and duck — offering just the right amount of acidity to cut through each’s fattiness. In summer, try it ice-cold with a sweet sesame chicken and avo salad.


The Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016 received the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition’s 2018 Chenin Blanc Trophy – beating all other Chenin Blanc wines entered into this competition to be crowned the world’s best.

Last year, it not only won the Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show but also received the Trophy for Best White Wine Overall.

At the 2018 Top 100 SA Wines, it was awarded a Double Platinum and was also included in the Standard Bank Top 10 Chenin Blanc Challenge – an achievement that both previous vintages, 2014 and 2015, also attained.

Indeed, the 21 Gables Chenin Blanc is no stranger to acclaim: the 2015 vintage won the inaugural Veritas Vertex Award – defeating 1638 other entries to be crowned the Veritas competition’s champion wine across all varietals.

If this wine won an Oscar, what would it be for?

Well, based on the plethora of awards it’s received, we’d argue that it deserves a Best Picture — for a harmonious, complex, intriguing, extraordinary and multi-layered experience from the beginning of the bottle till the last drop.

RSP:  R198.00

Recipes You Can Try at Home

Waterblommetjie and Pork Knuckle Soup

This tasty soup uses waterblommetjies for South African flavour. Best eaten the following day once the flavours have developed over-night and best served with a glass of Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc.

Recipe for Waterblommetjie and Pork Knuckle Soup

Classic Easy Bobotie Recipe with Minted Yoghurt

This traditional bobotie recipe is so simple to make and served in individual ramekins. The sweet and spicy flavour is perfectly paired with Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc

Recipe for Classic Easy Bobotie Recipe with Minted Yoghurt 

Slow-Roast Pork Belly with Sage and Crackling

Is this succulent roast pork belly not the most delicious thing you’ve ever seen? The juicy meat and crispy crackling is hail-worthy stuff.

Recipe for Slow-Roast Pork Belly with Sage and Crackling

Teriyaki Chicken and Tempura Avocado on Cucumber and Carrot Noodles

This refreshing summer salad is best enjoyed outdoors, under the sun and with a glass of Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc in hand.

Recipe for Teriyaki Chicken and Tempura Avocado on Cucumber and Carrot Noodles

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