’Steen’ means ‘Rock’ in Afrikaans, and more importantly, ‘Chenin blanc’ (though we were only able to confirm THAT connection in 1963 mind you).
Today Chenin blanc forms the bed’rock’ of South African wine, though by no means basic, more fundamental in its many guises. Chenin’s glorious habit of taking on the character of its soil and terroir so completely it morphs into a number of very distinct styles, is chameleon-like and altogether delightful. In fact, the Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa has classified it into no less than six recognised styles: fresh & fruity, rich & ripe (wooded and unwooded), sweet (and slightly sweet) and even sparkling.
The versatility of the grape, especially in the hills and valleys of our native land is extraordinary. And we have the international acclaim to prove it. None more so than Ken Forrester’s The FMC. Ken Forrester himself being THE human manifestation of Chenin blanc… Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, owner of Ken Forrester Wines, maker of The FMC and a number of other wines including ‘Fijndraai’, ‘Dirty Little Secret’ and the American ’The Bridge’ (all sold out unfortunately) , acclaimed restauranteur and recent importer of American wines, Rieslings and Champagne - his many guises mimic that of his favoured grape. Like we said: THE Human Chenin equivalent. His The FMC’s accolades require an imbongi (praise singer) to extoll its many virtues and while we would classify The FMC as one of our top Chenin blancs, we would be remiss if we did not draw your attention to the various distinctive and awarded Chenin blancs made from here, to the Paarl, to the Swartland and back again.
Prime examples of these include Botanica's Chenin, Sijnn’s Malgas White, Miles Mossop's Introduction Chenin, not to mention the old bushvine Chenins (what with Chenin being one of the first varietals planted by Mr. Jan van Riebeeck). With a selection such as this, one might argue that you could drink Chenin for days without getting bored. Having said that Mr. Forrester’s Old Vine Reserve demonstrates a great capacity for ageing (as if we haven’t given you enough pros to go on), a virtue that we would like to demonstrate by offering you an incredible library of vintages; which as you might guess, we invite you to taste and compare to track down your very favourite year. Alternatively, you might be tempted to put together your own selection from our eclectic array to see if you might, in fact, subsist on Chenin alone (obviously paired with a well-chosen Brie or Camembert to highlight those honeyed notes).