Highlights: Wolf & Woman Chenin Blanc 2020 Swartland, South Africa

It’s amazing how many serious expressions of Chenin are coming out of the Swartland these days. I know the scene there pretty well, and yet here’s one that is new to me, and it’s quite brilliant. It’s from Jolandie Fouché, and first vintage was 2018. The name? It comes from a line by poet Clarissa Pinkola Estés: “Some days I am more wolf than woman, and I am still learning how to stop apologising for my wild.”

Notes from me (JG) and Ring (TR).

Wolf & Woman Chenin Blanc 2020 Swartland, South Africa
13% alcohol. Jolandie Fouché is the winemaker behind Wolf & Woman, and she began making these wines in 2018. It’s sourced from three vineyards. Two of them are in the Paardeberg and were planted on granitic soils in 1971 and 1980, while the third is north of Malmesbury, planted in 1981 on iron-rich red soils. All three have just dry-grown bush vines. Natural ferment and ageing in neutral 300 and 500 litre barrels. It’s layered and quite complex with some salty notes under the crystalline citrus fruit, with contributions from green apple, pear and peach. Really nice balance and purity, with some fine spicy, mineral characters on the finish. An impressive newcomer. 94/100 (JG) (£19.68 Justerini & Brooks)

This Chenin comes off old dryland bush vines in Swartland’s iron rich (Malmesbury) and decomposed granite soils (Paardeberg). It was native fermented and matured in old French oak for 10 months. This fills the palate with Chenin’s characteristic waxiness, making a bed for flax, wild lemon, and broken stones. The old vines and old wood provide an alluring texture to the medium body, which stretches long into a dusting of salts. Quite profound, especially considering this is a debut effort from winemaker Jolandie Fouché. Only 1300 bottles produced. 92/100 (TR)

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