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A Refreshing Chenin Blanc

Elin McCoy's Wine of the Week

2010 Indaba Chenin Blanc

Price: $10
Western Cape, South Africa 
 100 percent Chenin Blanc
 As an aperitif, with fish, mild cheeses and light pastas

The holidays are over, and like most wine lovers, I’m looking for good value wines. Here’s refreshingly crisp super-lively everyday white that’s a downright bargain: 2010 Indaba Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Packed with citrus and pear notes and a tart, mineral-edged appetizing flavor, this dry, tangy wine is my current “refrigerator white” — a bottle that’s kept pre-chilled so I can have a glass while I’m chopping vegetables or stirring pots. It comes with a screw-cap to maximize freshness.

But it’s not just an aperitif; it’s particularly good with fish (scallops and bok choy), cheeses (especially goat) and lighter pasta dishes (pasta primavera).

Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most widely planted grape, made into everything from brandy to plonk to very distinguished deep-flavored whites, and increasingly, highly-drinkable, great value whites like this one.

Wine wizard Bruwer Raats, the proprietor of Raats Family Wines as well as Indaba’s winemaker, uses grapes from the Stellenbosch, Paarl and Swartland districts, primarily those from low-yield dry-farmed bush wines, to get the intensity of flavor that comes through in this bottling. Half the juice is left with the skins for several hours and then cold fermented in stainless steel. Then it’s given four months tank aging sur lie to gain additional depth and richness. Heavy rains and strong winds made the 2010 vintage a challenge, but the upside was high quality, good acidity and concentration, which is certainly evident here.

Indaba (Zulu for “meeting of the minds”) was created as a brand in 1996 and launched in the U.S. A portion of the proceeds from global sales of Indaba wines funds a scholarship program for formerly disenfranchised South Africans who are interested in winemaking, viticulture and wine marketing. Eight such scholarships, administered in conjunction with Stellenbosch University, have already been given out.

Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”