Hollywood legend Robert Redford says he’s a fan of South African chenin blanc, and if he can help promote it, “I'd be happy!”
Speaking at a lunch in Franschhoek this weekend, Redford revealed his delight with local chenin wines. “I’ve experienced white wine in the Napa Valley in California, but never something like this,” he declared.
Chenin is South Africa’s most widely cultivated vine. Thanks to an improved image, its popularity is spreading as consumers become aware of its versatility and the quality being achieved by local producers.
“Chenin blanc came into my life via my experience in South Africa,” said Redford, a wine enthusiast who owns vineyards California. “When I came here, I was willing to explore all kinds of new things.
“When I heard about chenin blanc I thought I'd never had that and when I had it, I knew I’d found something fresh and exciting - so much so that I’ve now become a fan. If I can help promote it, I'd be happy!”
Redford is on holiday in South Africa with his wife, Sibylle, and made the comments during a small function hosted by Delhi-based industrialist Analjit Singh. Singh recently took a stake in the South African wine industry that included the acquisition and amalgamation of three prominent farms in Franschhoek and the development of a new luxury boutique hotel, spa and wine tasting facility.
His interest in South Africa was sparked during his visit to the country in 2010 for the FIFA World Cup. He investigated possible investments and towards the end of last year acquired shares in Mullineux Family Wines.
Renamed Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines (“Leeu” translates as “Singh” in Sanskrit), Platter’s current Winery of the Year, vinifies an exceptional portfolio of wines - including a premier chenin blanc – from a base in Swartland, 50km north of Cape Town.
Subsequently the Franschhoek properties Dassenberg, Von Ortloff and Dieu Donné were amalgamated within Singh’s Leeu portfolio, under the name Leeu Dassenberg Estates. Also new to the Leeu portfolio is Rusthof Country Inn, a property in the heart of Franschhoek village that is being refurbished.