Ken Forrester began his career in hospitality in 1977 working for Southern Sun, a prominent hotel group in South Africa. He soon transitioned to the restaurant industry and opened several successful eateries in Johannesburg, eventually becoming Chairman of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa. In 1993, Ken used that same energy and drive to restore a historic vineyard in Stellenbosch when he and his wife, Teresa purchased the Zandberg farm originally established in 1689. Teresa oversaw the renovation of the 1694 Cape Dutch Homestead while Ken rejuvenated the 100 year old vines which were primarily planted to Chenin Blanc. Given Ken’s proven track record of success, it’s no surprise he is known today as ‘Mr. Chenin Blanc’, having focused the majority of his efforts, with the help of the esteemed South African winemaker, Martin Meinert, on perfecting the art of producing world class Chenin (ranging from stainless steel-fermented to oak-aged versions). In doing so, he has also taken on the mantel of enthusiastic ambassador for South African wine and travels the world espousing the great terroir and potential of his beautiful homeland.
The estate covers 36 hectares of vines which are planted primarily to Chenin Blanc of course, with Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot rounding out the mix. Mr. Chenin Blanc endeavors to “improve the lot of our labour force” by employing a significant portion of the local community to help farm the vines sustainably, doing every vineyard task during the growing season through to harvest by hand. He explains, “if every community looked after their own, no one would go wanting. This is our ‘Petit’ (Small) proposal, and each bottle represents a small change - for the better - in someone’s life.” The nose exudes vibrant aromas of green apple, kiwi and Anjou pear which echo on the light-bodied palate as flavors along with a splash of lime citrus. The finish is pointedly crisp with very bright acidity and the wine ends with minerality that recalls the essence of cool stream water flowing over rocks. Note Ken’s comment regarding the aging potential: “should last half an hour with the cap off and reach for the next bottle!”