Loire Rendez-Vous lauds SA Chenin
- Tuesday 8 July 2003
South African producers were delighted with the result of the first edition of the Rendez-Vous du Chenin. Forty-nine wines out of a total of 214 were selected for showing the best characteristics of Chenin Blanc, and out of those 49, twelve were South African. They were especially pleased as they had only entered 25 wines for the competition
Held last week at the Abbaye of Fontevraud near Saumur, this was the first time that Chenin Blancs from around the world have been compared. The event was also designed to raise the profile and reputation of Chenin by stressing its diversity.
The event stirred considerable controversy in parts of the Loire, especially in Vouvray where the Syndicat of Vouvray producers urged their members to boycott it.
'We base our appellation's reputation on terroir and never on the grape variety. The Rendez-Vous's approach is a grave error and represents a very serious danger for the future. We do not wish to be associated with this devaluing confrontation,' a statement said.
Ironically two 1990 Vouvrays from Prince Poniatowski were amongst the best sweet wines.
Wines from the Layon Valley in Anjou dominated the sweet wine categories with 17 out of 23 selected, but the dry categories were much more mixed. Here South Africa led with 10 wines selected. Nine were selected from the Loire and one from Australia's McLaren Vale.
Leading proponents of Chenin in South Africa did well. Ted Hall of Kanu and Rudera was the most successful producer overall with two dry and two sweet wines from each property, while Ken Forrester had two dry wines selected. The top dry wine was Château de Varennes 1997 Savennières from Vignobles Germain.
Marc Morgat, president of trade body InterLoire, said 'I am delighted by the success of this first edition of Rendez-Vous du Chenin and by the results. It shows that Chenin Blanc throughout the world can be world class and that the Loire is not the sole region that can claim to be producing good Chenin. I am sorry that some producers in my region got cold feet and did not enter their wines.'
Winemaker Noel Pinguet, son-in-law of the late Gaston Huet, took 20% of the shares in the company.
Investment planned by Hwang and Szepsy will enable Pinguet to significantly lower yields in order to further improve the already very high quality of the wine.
Huet labels include Clos du Bourg, Le Haut Lieu and Le Mont. A fourth vineyard Vodanis, will no longer be used for the domaine's wines. 'We are not happy with the quality here', Hwang told UK journal Harpers.