Crushing On: Villion Henning Chenin Blanc 2017

Words: Crush

Villion may not be a name you know in the wine industry yet but this is sure to change in the near future. This exciting and relatively new wine label was launched in 2014, with the first vintage in 2015. The range includes three reds and three whites and here we get to know Villion Henning Chenin Blanc 2017 a little better.

Villion Chenin Blanc 2017

Meet the Winemaker

Kobie Viljoen is the winemaker at Villion Family Wines. A direct descendant of French Huguenot, Francois Villion, who made South Africa his permanent residence in 1671.

Kobie has spent years working in wineries around the country, gaining valuable experience, which he now brings to his family label.

Villion Chenin Blanc 2017

The Importance of Terroir

Terroir is the basis of the whole Villion range. This is especially the case with their Chenin Blanc, which is from Bot River fruit, and from some of the oldest vineyards in the “cool climate” region of Walker Bay. Drinking this wine is an opportunity to experience something very unique compared to other offerings from warmer regions.

The Challenges of working with Chenin Blanc

Making a terroir true Chenin Blanc from vines older than 35 years is a challenge. Making something unique and proudly South African adds another level. Winemaker Kobie Viljoen has utilised what mother nature has supplied, as well as experience gained from 20 years of winemaking, to make this a possibility.

Not using clarification and settling enzymes and only allowing spontaneous fermentation challenged him to be very focused and observant in the process. The choice of fruit and when to pick is also paramount for success.

Villion Henning Chenin Blanc 2017

The Winemaking Experience

We asked Kobie what he found most exciting about making this wine…”There are so many exciting elements during the journey to the final wine. Elements like working with such an old vineyard, knowing when to pick at optimal ripeness, the different flavours that arise from spontaneous fermentation and how they add to reflect the true origin of the wine.

Then there’s knowing how long to keep the wine in the barrels, how much new oak and how much neutral oak to use, what percentage of skin-fermented Chenin to use to enrich the texture. It’s an exciting process!” he tells us.

Drought Impact

2017 was a dry year. The 4-year drought that the Western Cape experienced from 2015 to 2018 had a big impact on production. With this wine, in particular, the vineyard is not irrigated, so the fruit was intense and concentrated and an earlier pick was necessary to capture the freshness and acidity.

Fermentation and Flavour

The wine is fermented spontaneously and in warm conditions, so the outcome was surprising. For this specific vintage, one of the barrels presented a potent granadilla flavour, which was carried through to the final wine.

We asked Kobie what he loves about this wine specifically, “I love the unique saline and oyster shell component of this vintage due to spontaneous fermentation. This combined with the peach and apricot nature of Chenin and the oak which underlines the granadilla and sweet spice, makes for a beautifully balanced wine” he says.

Pairing Villion Henning Chenin Blanc 2017

The best way to enjoy this wine is to slightly chill to 18 degrees. Use a broad-bowled glass, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy. Look out for that apricot, sweet spice and granadilla combination on the dry but firm finish.

This Chenin pairs well with grilled fish as the saline and apricot combine beautifully. It similarly pairs well with pulled pork as the freshness and texture of the wine cut through the richness of the meat. You can also savour this stunning Chenin alongside beautiful salads with fruits and nuts. Try some of our recipes below that you can pair with Villion Henning Chenin Blanc 2017.

Tartare Crusted Grilled Hake with Mushy Peas and Beer Battered Onion Rings

A fresh and healthy version of fish and chips with beautifully grilled hake accompanied by mushy peas in place of chips.

Recipe for Tartare Crusted Grilled Hake with Mushy Peas and Beer Battered Onion Rings

Pulled Pork with Sticky Plum Sauce

Melt-in-your-mouth tender pulled pork served with a sticky plum sauce and a side of crispy crackling and tasty slaw.

Recipe for Pulled Pork with Sticky Plum Sauce

Spinach, Baby Gem & Herb Salad with Dates and Cashew Nuts

This is a deliciously uncomplicated salad that balances all the right flavours.

Recipe for Spinach, Baby Gem & Herb Salad with Dates and Cashew Nuts

Broccoli, Apple & Walnut Salad with Candied Bacon Bits

Broccoli florets tossed with pink lady apples, chopped walnuts, dreamy dressing and candied bacon bits.

Recipe for Broccoli, Apple & Walnut Salad with Candied Bacon Bits

Quickfire questions for the Winemaker

Ideal setting to enjoy this wine? Somewhere in South Africa; high up on a mountain, close to the ocean, next to a fire or cosy in your favourite restaurant.

A novel that will perfectly go perfectly well with your wine? Wilbur Smith – When the Lion Feeds

A song that best describes the wine or could be listened to while drinking this wine? Let Her Go – Passenger.

If this wine was a celebrity who would it be? Blake Lively, because she’s vivacious.

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

Exclusively available at Frogitt & Vonkel Private Wine Merchants – delivered to your door.
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