Chamonix’s Old Vine Chenin Blanc Vineyard
The vineyard was planted in 1965, some 35 years before the late Chris Hellinger bought Chamonix. He set about implementing his vision of creating a wine estate on the mountains of the Franschhoek Valley, and accordingly had to remove a lot of fruit-orchards and plant new vines, as the farm had never in its history focussed on wine production alone.
Why he decided to keep this one Chenin Blanc vineyard, nobody quite knows. Some vintages of Chenin Blanc did appear under a Chamonix label, but were always second fiddle to the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the estate has become known for. The last bottled Chenin Blanc appeared in 2006. Current Chamonix winemaker Neil Bruwer has, however, become so infatuated with this old vineyard that an Old Vineyard Project Chenin Blanc from Chamonix will see the light in 2020.
All we know of the vineyard is that it comprises a Jacquez rootstock. No mention of clones exist in our records. The vineyard is planted at 320m above sea-level in apedal soil, rich in lime and of sandstone origin. Farmed dryland, this vineyard comprises .58ha and we can count 1732 vines. Due to its elevation we can only guess what of nature’s elements it has had to endure. Pummelling rain and thrashing wind – not to mention the advances of troops of hungry baboons.
Neil Bruwer, Chamonix winemaker: “You really have to walk through the vineyard to realise how special it is. Each scion, tendril and leaf carries the characters of age, heritage and a life well-lived. These emotions are then also experienced when sampling the wine from the grapes it has offered us, delicious complexity echoing the voices of ancient soils and exposing the drinker to philosophy that says good wine is a timeless thing.”