White, Drink now

2013 Tierhoek Chenin Blanc, Piekenierskloof

2013 Tierhoek Chenin Blanc, Piekenierskloof

White | Drink now | Tierhoek | Code:  39788 | 2013 | South Africa | Chenin Blanc | Medium Bodied, Dry | 14.0 % alcohol


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Case price (12)
£142.20 Saving £16.20

Bottle 6 x 75cl 7cs

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The Producer



Originating from the rugged, mountainous ward of Piekenierskloof (on the border with Cederberg), the wines at Tierhoek are made by Roger Burton, with fruit from the farm, which is the only fully-restored Sandveld farm in South Africa.

The term Sandveld is not strictly defined, sometimes being applied to the geographical area, traditionally the sandy plains between Tierhoek and the coast, or used to describe areas of sparse, open vegetation. In a more holistic sense it refers to the “going back in time feel” that the farmhouse at Tierhoek embodies, in both its architectural style, with thick whitewashed walls, and the practical, simple furniture, made from local fruit woods (in particular orange wood).

The Skimmelberg Mountain provides an incredible backdrop to the vineyards. The Sandveld Sauvignon Blanc is made from grapes that are produced organically (though not certified, all the vineyards are tended along organic principles). The vines grow on fragmented sandstone and silica soils, benefiting from the cooler, higher-altitude climate typical of the region. Harvesting is by hand and careful selection is carried out in the vineyards. Roger aims to produce a wine that is fresh and clean in style, with balance between varietal character and a sense of place.

The Grape

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is an important white grape variety planted in the Anjou-Saumur and Touraine regions of the Loire Valley and the most widely planted varietal grape in South Africa.

In the Loire it produces high quality dry wines in Savenniéres, and luscious sweet, dessert wines in Coteaux du Layon, Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume. In Vouvray and Montlouis it can be dry, medium dry, or sweet, and still or sparkling. Whether dry or sweet, the best Loire Chenin Blancs possess marvellously concentrated rich, honeyed fruit together with refreshingly vibrant acidity. It is Chenin Blanc's high acidity that enable the wines to age so well.

In South Africa Chenin Blanc is easier to grow and is prized for its versatility. It is used as a cheap blending option with Chardonnay, Colombard, and Muscat but also bottled unblended. The best producers keep their yields low and produce impressive mouthfilling wines.

The Region

South Africa

South Africa

It has taken the majority of the last two decades for the South African wine trade to become the truly exciting place it is today. First of all, it wasn’t only apartheid that held the Cape’s most talented winemakers back, it was also the dominance of the state-controlled winemaking cooperative, the Koöperatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging van Suid-Afrik (KWV). The KWV brought stability to many South African growers but its prices were based on quantity rather than quality. This encouraged the bulk production of inexpensive, inferior wines that did nothing to establish the region’s potential to impress at a higher level in virgin export markets. South Africa quickly gained a reputation for cheap and cheerful wines that lacked substance and often had a smoky character, which many experts attributed to virus-ridden vines.

It was following the privatisation of the KWV in 1997 that the South African wine industry really began to open up. Winemakers who had been frustrated by the cooperative’s restrictions were suddenly free to reduce yields and focus on producing smaller volumes of higher-quality wines; however, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It took some time for many of the larger wineries to appreciate that investment in the vineyards, and wineries could yield longer-term profits. A number of enthusiastic mavericks left their previous roles in larger corporates and took the risky strategy of setting up on their own; mavericks such as Eben Sadie, who was integral not only to establishing the Swartland as a new, cult Cape wine region but whose efforts have firmly planted South Africa on the global fine wine map.

Where Eben led, others followed, and in the mid- to late 2000s, high-quality winemaking became a key focus among the estates of the Western Cape. Historic properties such as Oldenburg in Stellenbosch which had old, disused vineyards were suddenly brought back to life by their new owners, and vast tracts of land were replanted on carefully chosen, virus-free rootstocks. Adrian Vanderspuy took over Oldenburg Vineyards in 2003 and immediately replanted the entire estate with new vines. Constantia Glen transformed its beautiful spot near Cape Town and also focused entirely on regenerating the vineyards; but vines take at least three years to grow to the point of producing quality wine, and so time passed. Both estates’ first vintage was in 2007.

Even more exciting for the South African vinous scene today are the young winemakers who have travelled the world to gain inspiration, and have since come home to establish their own unique projects. Not wanting simply to follow the Bordeaux model so assiduously created in Stellenbosch, Chris and Andrea Mullineux produce glorious Rhône-inspired reds and whites in Swartland, which are now widely acknowledged to be some of the best wines in the Western Cape. In short, much has changed since 1992, but South Africa’s winds are firmly blowing in the right direction with superb results now, and even more promise for the future.

Nature is certainly on South African wine producers' side, with plenty of sunshine in this warm Mediterranean climate, yet tempered by oceanic, onshore breezes. Climate plays a greater role in determining the style and quality of the Cape's wine, while the predominantly granitic (ie low pH) soils contribute to a generally fuller, rounder, low-acid mouthfeel.

Stellenbosch with 17,500 ha is the most important fine wine producing district, followed by Swartland with 15,000 ha and then Paarl at 18,000 ha. Worcester (20,500 ha), Robertson (13,500 ha), Olifants River (10,000 ha) and Orange River (5,000 ha) make up the difference. 

Newly-created wine regions include the coastal Elgin (near Cape Agulhas, Africa's southern-most tip), West Coast, Langloof, and Prince Albert (near the majestic Swartberg mountains).

The split of white to red wine production was 55:45 in 2005. The white wine grapes are dominated by Chenin Blanc (Steen) with 20 percent share, with Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier the great white hopes. The red wine grapes are led by Cabernet Sauvignon with 13 percent, with Merlot and Shiraz close behind. 

Pinotage, South Africa's indigenous grape varietal (a cross between Pinot Noir & Cinsaut -spelt “Cinsault” in the Southern Rhône) and its plantings are decreasing.

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