Niels Verburg Luddite Chenin Blanc


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Niels and Penny have been making Chenin Blanc since 2012, they produce 2,500 bottles of Chenin each year.

The hand-harvested grapes are left on the skins after fermentation for 22 days before maturation lasting 12 months in older oak vessels. Enticing nose with flinty reduction, potpourri, peach, orange and ginger. The palate is lean, alcohol is low:11.9% - and yet the wine tastes perfectly ripe and balanced. Taut with peppy acidity but also lots of flavour. A direct and arresting wine.

LUDDITE, Stellenbosch Organic principles

Niels Verburg began his South African career as winemaker at Beaumont Wines in 1995, and in 1996 was the first to plant Shiraz vines in the Bot River valley. He recalls the rainy Sunday, during his tenure at Beaumont, when he took a bottle of wine up to a rocky outcrop and looking at where his farm is now asked the question, ‘if we can grow grapes on Beaumont, why not grow grapes here?’ Penny remembers planting the first vines in 2001 without any established irrigation, refilling a bucket and watering by hand. Naysayers warned it would never work, but miraculously the rains came.

The Luddite vineyards lie on the eastern slopes of the Houw Hoek Mountains, 30km from the Atlantic Ocean, and fall within the Walker Bay Wine Ward. The morning sun washing over the cool South-eastern slopes encourages long ripening, which in turn creates spicy characteristics in the well-balanced Luddite Shiraz.

Six hectares of the 17-hectare property is under vine, planted with Shiraz grapes. There are also Frantioa, Mission and Leccino olive trees and a herd of happy pigs. In Jancis Robinson’s words: “this wine is a triumph of flavour over alcohol - no added water here - with real backbone as well as tons (six to the hectare) of spicy fruit. More leathery than the average New World Syrah but nothing like a North Rhône wine.”