Ken Forrester on all things Chenin

by | Jun 25, 2024 | Articles

In celebration of Chenin Blanc month, we caught up with Ken Forrester, Director and CEO of Ken Forrester Wines and the chairperson of the Chenin Blanc Association.

  1. June is International Chenin Blanc Month (Chenin Blanc Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday); as a top Chenin Blanc producer, how did you celebrate the day?

I jumped the gun a little and arranged a tasting and presentation of FMC going back to 2003 – 21 years of FMC poured from the Magnum at the venerable 67 Pall Mall in London at the end of May.

  1. As the Chairperson of the Chenin Blanc Association, how is the association approaching sharing new advances for Chenin Blanc with producer members?

We’re constantly collaborating with various agencies, including the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Montpellier, all the French Loire producer bodies, and their collective, Fan ‘d Chenin. We also meet as a working committee monthly.

  1. Chenin Blanc is the most planted grape cultivar in South Africa, spanning 16 192 ha. What do you predict the future holds for South African Chenin Blanc?

Chenin is reasonably drought-resistant. It handles wind well, doesn’t suffer badly from downy mildew, hardly shows symptoms of leaf roll, and produces well and consistently – what more coins can you ask for? It’s an amazing varietal, and to own almost 60% of this resource in South Africa is a huge global advantage.

  1. Ken Forrester Wines produces a variety of Chenin Blancs. Please tell us more about your range and decision to focus on this cultivar.

Truthfully there’s very little we haven’t tried to do with Chenin – we’re making a crunchy Pet Nat this year as well as our Cap Classique Sparklehorse and the new Sparklehorse Nektar, and that’s just the sparkling wines – I work with fruit from Bonnievale, Elgin, Stellenbosch, Swartland, Paarl and Piekenierskloof in various styles and guises.

  1. Lastly, we all know Chenin Blanc is not just for warmer weather. What is your favourite winter meal to pair with Chenin Blanc?

Crazy delicious pairing is to take a whole shoulder of lamb – add two sliced onions, six cloves of chopped garlic, and three generous sprigs of rosemary. Rub the lamb with salt and pepper and sear in some olive oil – remove from the pan, add the onions and garlic and fry until glassy. Then add the lamb and a whole bottle of Chenin Blanc – close the lid (clay pot or Dutch oven) and bake at 150 degrees for 2 and a half hours. Thereafter, add four sliced potatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes – serve with a rich, full-bodied Chenin Blanc.

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