Sebeka Chenin Blanc “Steen”

For the third time in recent reviews, we are again visiting South Africa. Sebeka is from the Swartland region of the Western Cape. It is produced in the Swartland Winery, a co-op of growers from that area.

Chenin Blanc is a Loire Valley, France varietal that is the basis of Vouvray, the white wine from the region of the same name near the Northeast end of the Loire. It is among the earliest of varietals to show up in South Africa, and today South Africa grows far more Chenin Blanc than France. Traditionally, South African wine makers called the wine from Chenin Blanc “Steen”, and this Sebeka selection carries both names on the label.

Wife actually made this selection. It was attractive for the price-$5.99 for a 750ml, as well as the cool label of a Cheetah in a fully extended run. The name Sebeka (Se-BEEK-ah) comes from an orphaned Cheetah cub. The cork is yellow with Cheetah-like spots as well. Neat. Such nice packaging, too bad the wine was no fun.

The first thing we noticed-3 of us sampling- was an, uh, unusual “nose”. Paint, or turpentine. I read somewhere that occasionally “iodine” was a Chenin Blanc descriptor, but the stuff I soak paint brushes in seemed closer. The taste was tart, a touch sour. Hard to pinpoint a fruit-combination of grapefruit with apricot or pear. No one hated this, but no one wants to buy more, either. It’s now on my to-do list to try somebody else’s Chenin Blanc for comparison. Is our less-than-enthusiastic response to this wine the brand, or the grape? If I find another Cheapskate Chenin Blanc, I’ll find out. But at least the cork was cool.

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