Can you tell me about the grape steen from South Africa? Ask The Wine Ladies
Dear Wine Ladies,
Up until now I’d never had the opportunity to taste any wines from South Africa but had a delicious white wine recently made from a grape that I believe was called “steen”.
This grape is new to me as well. What can you tell me about it? Is it a new wine or just not very popular? Some-one recommended we try a wine called Lammershok that is suppose to now be available, saying it was made with this grape but we are unable to find it.
Steen is actually the name of the most planted white grape variety in South Africa, which is more commonly known as Chenin Blanc. The wine you are referring to which comes from the winery Lammershoek, is labelled Chenin Blanc Barrique 2007 and is currently available at the LCBO for $18.95. This is a full bodied wine, at 14.5% alc., is barrel fermented in French oak and is very rich – it has notes of spice and honey with a long finish. The grapes were hand picked from forty year old vines, and the yield was kept to a minimum resulting in a complex wine which is well worth the price.
Chenin Blanc, or Steen has the ability to make some wonderful wines in a broad range of styles. At one end of the spectrum, it is capable of producing some of the longest living sweet wines while at the other it is sometimes used for table wines (mostly in South Africa) and even for the base wine for fortified wines and spirits. It does have a natural high acidity which serves it well in hotter climates, often producing lively wines with good fruit and with a flavour reminiscent of honey. Steen, or Chenin Blanc is also called Pineau or Pineau de la Loire in its native region, the Loire, located in the northwestern part of France.