Monday, July 11, 2022

Meet the Producer: Kanu of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Jade showing her gold
Kanu was present at the London Wine Fair 2022 with a substantial range of wines.

Founded in 1692, it changed hands a number of times and it acquired its current name in 1997. You can read its full history, in times of peace and war, on their website. Today Kanu is established as a boutique producer of quality wines with grapes sourced over a wider area in the Western Cape.

The name Kanu is from a legend told by an old Xhosa man who was raised in his grandmother’s house on the Goedgeloof farm. Day after day, he would tell of the mythical bird he had seen flying over the farm. According to him, if the bird’s shadow touches your crop, you are promised a bountiful year’s harvest!  (from their website)

I was fortunate to taste a few wines, both at the London Wine Fair and subsequently with some colleagues from the Club. Scroll to the end of this post and you can listen to a conversation with Jason Chen, general manager and Johan Grimbeek, winemaker. Because of a technical glitch we only have the audio from our guests, sorry. Recorded on 11 July 2022.

Angelina rosé brut (Gold)
Fruity and smooth, with fine and persistent bubbles. Good freshness and minerality ensure a perfect balance with the lightly pressed pinot noir. Complex aromas in the nose and fragrance in the mouth. An elegant wine with a full personality. The gold flakes are added to some of the bottles to attract certain market segments who appreciate this precious touch of exclusivity and class.
Score 92

Pinotage rosé
Pomegranate color and fresh strawberry aromas for this original interpretation of an archetypical South African grape. Freshness in abundance but rounded for a perfect balance. 

An amazing surprise. I paired it with a raw yellowfin tuna salad on a hot Summer day and can see how this wine would be ideal with sushi, sashimi or beef carpaccio.
Score 94

Pinotage Rosé

Chenin Blanc 2019 Old Vines
Quite old these bush vines, planted in 1980 to be precise. Low yield, minimalist intervention for a vineyard certified as a heritage of Stellenbosch.
Papaya to the nose, immediately reveals a smooth, velvet wine. There is however enough acidity to ensure a moderate balance. Vanilla, almonds, pineapple all combine to provide complexity and moderate length. Late harvesting adds some spicy notes.
Score 90.

NuEra 2017
Deep ruby with highlights of garnet. An intense and complex set of red fruit aromas welcomes you to this plump and elegant wine. Peppercorn and lavender help give character and structure so that the result is a perfect balance. A harmonious wine. 
I paired it with lasagne, a medium structure food for a medium structure wine. I also tried it with Chinese pork belly and mushrooms, again the elegant tannins contrasted perfectly with the fat in the plate.
Ready now, can probably wait a few more years but it won't necessarily improve. An amazing discovery.
Score 95 

Keystone 2017
Top class South African wine in bordeaux style blend. You do not get the austerity of a Bordeaux but you can enjoy the sunshine in this is a superb expression of Stellenbosch: plump, fruity, complex and ready at just 5 years of age. I paired with bbq meat, South African style, first pork chops and then guinea fowl.
Score 93

Noble Late
Chenin blanc 100%
The sweet sibling of the family. A voluptuous wine with mellow nuances of vanilla, tangerine and ripe apricots. A "sunny" version of the well known Sauternes-style. I paired it to a home-made tiramisù, but finished off the bottle the next day while reading in the afternoon, no pairing, just a delightful meditation wine.
Score 93

the cellar

bird's eye view of the estate

the Kanu range