Lievland Old Vines Chenin Blanc, Paarl, South Africa 2020

Light-medium straw color; white peach, pineapple, passionfruit, citrus on the nose; white peach, yellow apple, pear, lemon, pink grapefruit, passionfruit, vanilla, slight oak note and beeswax on the palate.

Lievland Old Vines Chenin Blanc, Paarl, South Africa 2020

Dry; smooth and creamy in the mouth; partially fermented in oak. Excellent acidity (3.39 pH). Nice balance of fruit and secondary flavors. Minerality with just hint of saline. Intense and well structured, it is tasty now and could be held for five years or more to develop. Light-plus body.

Grapes come from two vineyards farmed by Lievland grape-growing partners. One vineyard dates from 1693, with the sauv blanc grapes planted in 1976. The other vineyard was planted in 1983. Both feature dry-farmed bush vines—old school South Africa. Grapes picked and immediately crushed. Racked off the gross lees, but some fine lees added back to provide texture. Fermented in 50% stainless steel tanks and 50% neutral oak. Spent two months on the refined lees. 13% ABV

Lievland Vineyards estate

Lievland translated means “love land.” José Conde and Tyrrel Myburgh, partners in MAN family wines, fell in love with its bucolic beauty. They purchased the property in 2017. The winery notes: “ Twenty years ago, these soils were considered amongst the Cape’s top vineyards and it remains our ultimate goal to resurrect its ultimate potential.”

Lievland logo

The logo depicts cupid riding a “bokkie”—a springbok, South Africa’s national animal. The winery grows grapes at high-altitude, cool-climate Stellenbosch vineyards and dryland vineyards from lower, warmer Paarl vineyards. These grapes come from the Paarl properties. Riaan Möller is the winemaker. Mahalia Kotjane is the assistant winemaker. She is featured in two videos on the website. They are worth investigating.

Lievland Vineyards landscape
Lievland Vineyards landscape

The winery’s backstory is interesting. From the website: “The farm is situated at the northern end of Stellenbosch, along what is referred to as the Simonsberg ‘Golden Mile’ of wine estates. Lievland was originally part of a much larger estate, Natte Vallei, that was granted to Jurgen Hanekom, a Dutch East India Company woodcutter in 1715. After passing through a number of owners over the years, the farm was divided into its current boundaries in 1934 and sold to the Baron and Baroness Von Stiernhjelm of Latvia who planned to immigrate, looking to escape the strife that was engulfing their homeland.

“The Baron died before the family left Europe, and the widowed Baroness moved to South Africa with her five children and took over the farm with no previous experience in farming. It was Hendrika, the Baroness, who renamed the farm Lievland, after the birthplace of her husband and children. She was, at the time, unique in being a single woman managing a large Cape wine farm. Poor and totally inexperienced in farming and wine production, with the help of her neighbours and her own powerful drive, she established the vineyards and developed a reputation for the wines. Initially selling door-to-door, she eventually managed more than 173 acres of vineyards—all plowed by horse! Over the years Lievland became known as arguably Stellenbosch’s top Syrah producer. Along the way it garnered several firsts: it is said to be the first to have a female winemaker and the first to produce a certified barrel-fermented Chenin Blanc. Today, Lievland is certified sustainable by the Integrated Production of Wine.”

Lievland Vineyards vineyard

Lievland Old Vines Chenin Blanc, Paarl, South Africa 2020 is excellent example of South African “steen”—the name of chenin blanc in South Africa, although, as this effort demonstrates, wineries are coming around to the more recognizable name, especially in the critical export market. With a hint of saline, this is superb food wine. Pair with smoked pork; seafood, especially in cream sauces; roast chicken; turkey; spicy foods; garden salads; vegetarian fare; mild and soft cheeses. Almost all chenin blanc is excellent with wide swath of food and this is no exception. With superior mouthfeel and ripe, rich fruit, this also works as an aperitif or summer sipper served well chilled. $15-20

Vineyard Brands, U.S. importer, be sure to check out the videos

Lievland Vineyards winery
José Conde—Lievland
Tyrrel Myburgh—Lievland
Riaan Möller—Lievland
Mahalia Kotjane—Lievland