Lubanzi Chenin Blanc 2019, South Africa
Cost: $6-8 per can
Chenin Blanc is one of the great wines of the world, and South Africa makes it better than any place. There’s something about the soil and the climate that produces perfect Chenin Blanc grapes.
I have had several great Chenin Blancs from South Africa, and now I’ve found another, made by Lubanzi. It is a fabulous wine at a great price. And you can buy it in cans. How great is that?
You could spend years just tracking down great wines from South Africa, and now would be a good time to start doing that.
The coronavirus pandemic has hurt food and wine companies all over the world, and those in South Africa have been particularly hard hit. The country banned the sale of alcohol in March, including exports. The ban on exports was lifted May 1, but the local sales ban was lifted and then re-instated.
So whenever we wine drinkers get a chance to support South African wine production we should do so. Their wineries need our help.
I came across the Lubanzi Chenin Blanc on a website called Wine Awesomeness. I try to support local wine dealers whenever I can, but sometimes there are wines not available locally. With Lubanzi, the only outlet I could find near Augusta was the Craft & Vine restaurant. After that you have to travel to Lexington, S.C. or Athens or Atlanta.
With Wine Awesomeness I had the wine delivered to my home and got a great price as well. The winery’s recommended price is $7 for a 375 ml can (equal to half a normal sized bottle), but when I bought 24 cans from Wine Awesomeness the price dropped to $6 per can. That’s only $12 a bottle for great wine.
It is a terrific dry wine, with a floral and citrus nose with notes of pear and peach. In the glass it is a pale yellow with a slight green tinge. The complex palate is full of creamy lemon and grapefruit flavors. The refreshing crisp finish leaves you wanting another sip…and another…and another.
Of course, if you are on a picnic or a boat ride, you can always drink the wine straight out of the can. It is a pleasant sipping wine, but with food, the flavors really pop. It’s a vibrant, lively wine, great for nearly any occasion.
The grapes are 100 percent Chenin Blanc from a blend of old, dry-farmed bush vines and younger, irrigated vines in South Africa’s Swartland area. The grapes are fermented with natural yeasts and spend 3-6 months on the lees.
When Lubanzi introduced its wine in cans to the American market in 2019 it was one of the pioneers in canned wine in South Africa.
Winery: Lubanzi started in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2016. It was named after a wandering dog that followed founders Charles Brain and Walker Brown on a 100-mile backpacking trip across the remote Wild Coast on the country’s southeastern coastline.
The founders operate the business as a social enterprise, donating half of all net profits to The Pebbles Project, which provides health and educational resources to the communities where laborers from South Africa’s vineyards live.
lubanzi supports sustainable farming and helped create a more sustainable and equitable supply chain.
On its website the company says it believes “that people are every bit as important as the product. In that spirit, we’re proud to be a Fair For Life Fair Trade Certified & B Corp Certified business, ensuring that human rights are safeguarded at every stage of production, workers enjoy good and fair working conditions and farmers receive a fair share.”
Lubanzi also is a certfied 1% For The Planet business, offsetting carbon emissions via Climate Neutral, focusing on doing what they can to minimize their impact on the planet.
Besides the Chenin Blanc, they produce a sparkling rosé and a red Rhone-style blend. The sparkling rosé is only 11 percent alcohol and comes in slim 250 ml cans.
Goes with: We had this refreshing wine with shrimp sauteed with tomatoes, shallots, basil and Italian parsley, served over rice. Then I top it with shredded parmesan and provolone cheese. It was a delicious meal.
Chenin Blanc is a great wine with all kinds of seafood, and it was perfect for this dish.
We had the same wine another night with Shrimp Creole, another great pairing. The creole is full of tasty spices and herbs with just a little zing to it. The food matched the complexity of the wine and the creaminess of the Chenin Blanc smoothed over the spiciness of the dish.
I cheated on the creole and bought a packaged mix from Louisiana Fish Fry Products. You add water and tomato sauce to get a shrimp creole base to which you add shrimp. But I added onion, bell pepper and celery to get a real shrimp creole. It was fantastic and easy.
This Chenin Blanc also would pair well with turkey, veal, chicken, pork chops, salmon, shellfish and soft cheeses.
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