The wonderful connection between the Swartland and the Loire Valley is, of course, chenin blanc. And it’s a connection that’s respected, it seems, on both sides. Local chenin lovers admire the versions from Touraine and Anjou-Saumur as much as they do the best from the remarkably wide range of fine chenin-producing regions in the Cape – and many serious local chenin producers have made pilgrimage to the Loire to learn what they can from those very different traditions and terroirs: while there is more chenin grown here than in France, they’ve been doing it somewhat longer there.
And some real, hopefully permanent comradely links have been established. In November 2013, the (sadly now discontinued) Swartland Revolution invited three young Loire winegrowers to show a few of their wines each: Vincent Carème from Domaine Vincent Carème and Benjamin Joliveau from Domaine Huet (both in the Vouvray appellation), and Damien Delecheneau from Domaine La Grange Tiphaine in Montlouis. Vincent has been a fairly frequent visitor to the Cape in fact – I last met him in November at the 15-year vertical tasting of Sadie Columella.
Now, in a fine reciprocal gesture, the Confrérie de la Chantepleure, an organisation celebrating and promoting the wines of Vouvray since 1937, has honoured two Swartland makers of fine chenin. Earlier this December, at a grand banquet, Messire Adi Badenhorst and Messire Eben Sadie were made “chevaliers de l’Ordre de la Chantepleure” (along with a dozen or so other eminences, including the director of Tours airport, a Japanese “Professeur de cuisine”, and someone from Citroen).
You can read more about the affair here (in French), with a few more pictures of the Confrérie’s grandees in their robes, their heads just about brushing the ceiling of the subterranean cellars hewn out from the tuffeau.
And in the pic alongside, look: there are Adi and Eben a trifle homespun amidst the slightly bizarre grandeur, I’d have thought – Eben wearing what looks like velskoens, with sodden patches suggesting he’d been trudging through wet, wintry Vouvray vineyards.