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SAT® Tasting Notes: Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2019

Tasting notes on this South African Chenin blanc according to WSET Level 4 (Diploma) Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine

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This wine is classified as Coastal region because the grapes mostly come from the Stellenbosch region and sourced from coastal vineyards including significant portions from Paarl, Durbanville and Swartland and some special parcels in Breedekloof. The Stellenbosch vineyards usually deliver structure and texture while the Swartland, Paarl, Durbanville and Breedekloof grapes lend more fruit and freshness to the wine.

Wine Geek Fact

bush vine wine chenin blanc grape diploma wset

These grapes are from bush vines, without a trellis (support to the vine to be above the ground). Bush vines are head-trained which means short trunk, with little permanent wood (like in the pic) and spur-pruned, short sections of one-year-old wood with 2-3 buds around the top of the trunk. It is an easy and inexpensive system where the shoots may drop down to protect the grape from sunburn.

Why is it important? In this wine, the canopy management on the bush vines was carried out, so the bunches were not exposed to excessive sunlight ensuring even ripening of the grapes. The grapes were hand-harvested since bush vines cannot be harvested with machines.

Wine Info

WSET Specification (Recommended tasting samples): South Africa - 1. Western Cape Chenin Blanc of acceptable or good quality

Wine: Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2019

Grape: Chenin Blanc

Region: Coastal Area, Western Cape, South Africa

Price: £8.99

Where to buy: Waitrose

These grapes were hand-harvested early in the morning and treated carefully after arrival at the winery. All the grapes were given 12 to 24 hours extended skin contact before only the free-run juice was transferred to tank for fermentation. The wines were fermented at low temperatures with selected yeast strains to highlight each vineyard’s specific characteristic.


Pale Lemon


Intensity: Medium

Aroma Characteristics

Primary: Citrus fruit (lemon, lime)

Stone Fruit (peach)

Tropical fruit (guava, lychee, pineaple)

Secondary: None

Tertiary: None


Sweetness: Dry (this wine has 3.0 g/l)

Acidity: High acidity

Tannin: N/A / nature: N/A

Alcohol: Medium

Body: Medium-bodied

Flavour Intensity: Medium

Flavour characteristics:

Primary: Citrus fruit (lemon, lime)

Stone Fruit (peach)

Tropical fruit (guava, lychee, pineaple)

Secondary: None

Tertiary: None

Finish: Medium (-)


Quality Assessment: Good

Balance - the flavour intensity is medium while the acidity is high, the fruit keeps the balance of the wine otherwise it would be harsh to drink. If the intensity was in the top end of the range, the fruit character was going to make the wine seems more smooth on the palate. Because of that, this wine is good instead of very good.

Lenght - the length is the mouth is medium (-) which means the after taste of the fruits in your palate do not last long placing this wine in the good category and not higher than that.

Intensity - the flavour intensity of this wine is medium lacking intensity of the fruit to be very good or outstanding.

Complexity - the primary aromas and flavours of this wine are not very well defined. It has a bit of variation of the clusters showing citrus, tropical fruits and stone fruit character but still lacks more definition of flavours.

Bottle ageing: Drink now, not suitable for bottle ageing.

A quick word about Klein Zalze

This family-owned winery, situated outside Stellenbosch in the heart of the Cape Winelands, produces wines of outstanding quality since 1695. The Klein Zalze Estate is located on a variety of slopes, soils and aspects, the vineyards are exposed to fresh ocean breezes from the coast, which lies just 15 kilometres away. This cool climate helps to keep the delicate flavours whilst at the same time providing optimal growing and ripening conditions to the grapes.

The cellar master is Alastair Rimmer that believes in the unique expression of varietal wines. Under his commands, the grapes are picked when they have reached the optimal ripeness, vinified separately to keep the characteristics of the fruit.

From their entry-level wines as the Zalze Range (like the one we are evaluating today) to more complex single vineyards, Kleine Zalze is known by their award-winning and distinctly South African character. Classic flavours reflecting the local climate and terroir. Don't miss their range KZ Family Reserve, the Chenin Blanc is just amazing.

Compare your wine tasting notes with ours and if you have any doubts or want to discuss this wine, leave your comment here!

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