Bellingham, The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region

Old Vine Chenin Blanc at Bellingham

In continued celebration of old vines comes this overperforming South African Chenin, courtesy of Richard. It also echoes the enthusiasm expressed for this particular combination shared in last Monday's tasting article.

Various vintages from €12.95, 245 rand, £13.99, $19.69, CA$23.99, HK$190, 159.95 Danish kroner, 3,300 Kenyan shillings, 119 Emirati dirhams, 239.90 Norwegian kroner, 2,860 roubles, 1,125 Taiwanese dollars, SG$62, 299.90 Brazilian reais

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There's already a long list of 'white wines that could be mistaken for premier cru burgundies' – and here's another one.

Incidentally, there's an even longer list of 'premier cru burgundies that don't taste anywhere near as good as premier cru burgundy should and – holy smokes – how much?' but that's another story.

Furthermore, Bellingham's excellent South African Chenin is testament to the enduring quality of old vines, the subject of our recent writing competition. In this case, the grapes come from vines aged between 35 and 47 years old. As I belong to the same bracket, I'm inclined to protest that this is still relatively youthful, but we are admittedly not spring chickens any more. Summer chickens perhaps. Which, while we are at it, happens to be an ideal food match for this wine.

Bottle shot of Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc

I recently tasted the 2018 vintage of The Bernard Series Chenin Blanc and was hugely impressed by its complexity, intensity and persistence. The MW student who tasted it (blind) alongside me identified it as premier cru from the Côte de Beaune, which is no shame at all (I did much the same thing in the MW exam itself ten years ago).

The fruit flavour is all dried apricot and citrus peel with crystallised ginger adding sweet piquancy, beautifully complemented by the toast and smoke of French barriques, in which the wine was aged for 12 months (half of those barrels being new). High acidity braces the finish, while the mouthfeel is layered and lustrous. That texture is perhaps the clue to Chenin rather than Chardonnay – otherwise, my tasting note could indeed describe a good Meursault or Puligny.

This is a wine with form, too: our tasting note database covers ten vintages of this bottling, with a mode average score of 16.5 points. I remember it fondly from my days at Majestic Wine, when it was one of the shop's best buys at around £10 – and it is still a bargain at £14 today (though no longer listed at Majestic).

Wine-Searcher shows an array of vintages available across 16 markets around the world. The 2019 is perhaps of particular note, since it recently scooped 97 points and the top-ranking Platinum Medal at this year's Decanter World Wine Awards, but I would be confident in recommending any of the other vintages too.

So the next time you are looking for an excellent-value white burgundy that both celebrates old vines and comes from a region that really deserves our support, there is no better candidate than Bellingham's Bernard Series Chenin Blanc. Especially when served with summer chicken.

The main picture for this is article comes from Bellingham's website.

Find dozens more articles about the riches of old vines here.