Le Chant Chenin Blanc sees 2024 Harvest of Early Promise

The proud rooster which is the symbol of Le Chant Wines in Polkadraai, Stellenbosch began crowing earlier than usual this year as grape harvesting for the 2024 vintage kicked-off ten days earlier than the average. Grapes for Le Chant Blanc, made from Chenin Blanc, were already hitting the harvest bins at the end of January, while the picking of the melange of red varieties for Le Chant Rouge will also begin earlier than per normal.

Petri Venter, winemaker at Le Chant which is owned by the French Oddo family who have substantial wine interests in Stellenbosch and Europe, says that after last year’s exceptional rainfall and the prevailing long, cold winter initial expectations were of a later harvest this year.

“But one just never knows what nature is going to throw at you,” says Venter. “Despite the vines on Le Chant going into a deep sleep during last year’s cold and wet winter, the first sign of spring warmth and sun woke them up, sending the plants into the new season’s growth cycle a week or two early. Bud-break, leaf-development and berry-set were all ahead of the usual cycle. And once the heat set-in in late December and early January, the berries began ripening at a rate of knots, leading to an early and quick harvest.”

Petri says that apart from early ripening, tremendous grape health is a feature of this year’s Le Chant Chenin Blanc harvest.

“The Le Chant farm on Polkadraai had over 800mm of rain last year, and with the Atlantic Ocean to the south-east, Le Chant is cooled by the sea-breezes in spring and summer,” he says. “Last year’s wet winter and spring allowed moisture to get deep-down into the soils, nourishing the roots and creating a cool environment beneath the earth. Above, the vines developed lush canopies that not only allowed energetic photosynthesis for the developing of optimal fruit ripeness, but also allowed the bunches to cool in the shade of the harsh summer sun.”

Venter says this led to Chenin Blanc grapes of exceptional quality at harvest, with the now-fermenting wines showing firm acids, low pH levels and true varietal character.

“Le Chant Chenin Blanc contains a portion of wine made from grape originating from vines planted in 1983 and we find this portion gives our Chenin Blanc a muscular structure to harness the refined fruit purity Polkadraai terroir is renowned for,” he says. “Once fermented the wine will remain on lees for eight months, drawing further nuances of taste and palate-weight from the lees.”

Since the first Le Chant vintage of 2019 this relative new-comer to the Stellenbosch wine scene has gained a fervent following with its label of a bellowing rooster and the quality of its two wines, the Blanc and the Rouge.

“The brand speaks of French flair with ‘le chant’ implying the song of the cockerel,” says Venter. “But the wines’ soul lies firmly in the incredible terroir of Polkadraai, Stellenbosch allowing us to make wines of distinction and world-class appeal,” says Venter.


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