Stellenbosch producer Kleine Zalze underscored its place among the top echelons of Chenin Blanc wineries by winning the Trophy for Best Museum Class Chenin Blanc at this year’s Trophy Wine Show. The awarded wine, Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Old Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2013, was made from grapes grown in old vineyards situated in Stellenbosch’s Faure region, the same vineyards responsible for Kleine Zalze’s current range of acclaimed Chenin Blanc wines.
Kleine Zalze was also awarded a Gold medal for its Cap Classique, the 2015 Klein Zalze Vintage Brut, at the 21st rendition of the prestigious Trophy Wine Show, which was this year presented by Investec. Some 673 wines were entered into the 2022 show, with 20 Trophies and 29 Gold medals awarded by the esteemed judging panel, including three international wine experts specially brought to South Africa for the event.
RJ Botha, Kleine Zalze cellarmaster, says winning this Museum Class Trophy for the Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2013, recognises an added dimension to the winery’s Chenin Blanc wines, noticeably the ability to gain complexity and added finesse whilst maturing in bottle.
“This specific wine was already being realised as a stunner back in 2015, two-years after its release, when it was adjudged the Best White Wine in the World at the Concours Mondial de Brussels,” says Botha.
“To seven years later see this same Kleine Zalze Chenin Blanc coming out tops in the Trophy Show’s Museum Class vindicates our belief that Chenin Blanc made from exceptional pockets of terroir – such as what we have in Faure, Stellenbosch – can deliver one of the world’s great white wines. Not only in its eager, younger format, but also when allowed to mature in bottle for nine years, as is the case of this wine.
“This especially appears to be the case in old Chenin Blanc bush-vines who seem to pass on their permanence in the vineyard to the very wine they are responsible for. Their fruit gives balanced pH, firm acids and palate-weight which, when respected in the cellar, provides a wine of interminable longevity .”
Grapes for the Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2013 were allowed extended skin-contact after crushing and prior to the juice settling. The wine was transferred to 400 litre French oak barrels (30% new, 30% second-fill and 40% third-fill) for fermenting, which was completed over 10 weeks. The wine then spent a further 12 months aging in barrel.
“Kleine Zalze is committed to furthering Stellenbosch’s reputation as South Africa’s – and one of the world’s – leading Chenin Blanc producers,” says Botha. “The region has more old Chenin Blanc vines than any other in South Africa, and these jewels must be nurtured as an important part of the country’s wine provenance. Not only because it makes for compelling dialogue in the world of wine, but also because these vines create magnificent, statuesque wines expressing a great white grape variety of which we believe South Africa to be the world leader.”
Kleine Zalze’s Gold medal at this year’s Trophy Wine Show went to the Kleine Zalze Vintage Brut 2015, the same wine that won the award for Best Cap Classique at last year’s Amorim Cap Classique Challenge, the foremost competition for South African wines made to the traditional sparkling wine method.
“Being awarded for two such diverse wines, underscores Kleine Zalze’s versatility and diversity as a wine producer, two elements harnessed by an unrelenting commitment to quality,” says Botha. “While the local and international wine consumer remains our most primary audience, awards at major wine competitions are important in measuring yourself against your peers as well as exposing one to the critical lens of world class wine judges, such as at the Trophy Show.”