Lightning in a Bottle

Lightning in a Bottle

Explosive, vibrant South African white!

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Those who know me well are aware that I have a “soft” spot for Chenin Blanc. And maybe that word is the key. There’s a softness, sometimes hidden in very dry versions, that reminds one of honey. Head down to South Africa, and you’ll find that Chenin Blanc is one of their oldest and most loved grapes. (They sometimes call it “Steen.”) Today’s wine, DeMorgenzon (“morning sun”) Reserve Chenin Blanc comes from a storied tradition. The average age of the vines is 42 years and owner Hylton Appelbaum plays Baroque music to his flock 24 hours a day! Comparable to the finest Vouvrays from the Loire, this is a complex wine bursting with personality.

2017 DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc $40 srp

Bright golden yellow in color. A richly textured, expansive nose of stone fruits, mountain herbs, honeysuckle, beeswax, vanilla and windswept acidity. And its all wrapped up in a lemony basket. Flavors favor apricot, nougat and tea with a clean, slate-like texture and a saline, slightly bitter finish. This wine is like lightning in a bottle; it’s powerful and would even improve with some bottle age. And, yes, there’s that little center of honey! For now, match with Hunan, Mexican or a salty ham feast. Drink today-2022.

92/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.