Growing mostly on dry un-irrigated land, Darling produces wines with intense flavours. The Darling Wine of Origin was formed to distinguish from the Swartland because the climate is distinctly different. Situated close to the Atlantic Ocean, it is the sea breezes which make the difference: hot days and cool nights.
A large proportion of the wines come from low yielding bush vines. This applies to Chenin Blanc in particular. Its roots dig deep into the ancient Swartland soil in search for water and minerals.
Most Chenins are fresh and crisp, ranging from pineapple bombs to bone dry wines,and are produced for early consumption, especially suited to accompany sea food dishes.There are however exceptions. Some characterful, age worthy Chenin Blancs are made he in Darling, and not necessarily from old vines. Take Ormonde Private Cellar’s Onedine2010 as an example: still fresh and concentrated after so many years in bottle, a delightful wine.
However it’s the Darling Chenin Blancs from Certified Heritage Vineyards (vines older than 35 years) which have recently drawn a lot of attention from local and international wine enthusiasts. Darling Cellars in particular has access to a few of those gems. Look no farther than to their Old Bush Vine series. But it’s increasingly a new generation of wine makers from the Swartland and the Winelands with an artistic approach, who now make innovative old vine wines.
Alexander Milner from Stellenbosch is one of them. Pursuing his other passion, mountain biking, he discovered a small block of old Chenin Blanc dryland bush vines in the Darling wine district. The result: 200 cases of old vine Chenin which attracted five stars from Platter’s for his maiden vintage 2018.Here are some impressions about this rarity from the subsequent vintage, 2019, another draught year: Light gold in colour the wine shoes good soft acidity. There is some gentle and well integrated oak. This elegant Chenin Blanc is worth cellaring but can be enjoyed immediately, especially with a niceseafood platter.
(A. Legner, Darling)