Smiley Chenin: The back story

The Smiley is a really cutting edge wine in terms of technique, we employ very many interesting techniques to create a very complex Chenin Blanc. There are many different batches of wine from different years blended together to create layers of interest in the wine. We also believe in keeping things as natural as possible so we only bottle healthy batches of wine and we are obsessive about the bottling process itself. The wine goes into bottle exactly as we intend and we apply ourselves pretty rigourous quality control.

The opaqueness of some of the bottles is due protein instability. Proteins naturally occur in all white wines and and can precipitate out as a wine warms up. What commercial cellars would do is add a kind of clay to the wine (bentonite) to strip those proteins out to create a “protein stable” wine. We however are committed to doing as little as possible to our wines and only taking an action that can improve or is essential to protect the integrity of the wine so we do not bentonite fine and protein stabilise our wines. The haze caused by the protein itself does not in any way affect the aromatics or taste of the wines, it is only visual. So we would risk using an additive that could potentially strip out more than unstable proteins for the sake of clarity which is a risk we find unacceptable.

The deposits in that can form in the Smiley over time are tartrates, there is natural tartaric acid in wine along with the mineral potassium. These two bind together in bottle to form those deposits. These are also completely harmless and have no effect on the final taste of the wine. A commercial cellar would “cold stabilise” or chill a wine to a very low temperature to pull all the crystals out before bottling. Again we try to present our wine as umodified as possible so people taste the earth as raw and clearly as possible.

We do lightly filter the Smiley at the bottling just to remove any unnecessary sediments in the wine, just a light clarification before we bottle.

On the wine itself this release is a much more textured and savoury wine rather than a bright and fruity style of wine. This is about the mouthfeel and the layers and layers of more savoury, earthy, mineral aromas. It’s the kind of wine to decant, drink over hours and watch the wine unfurl. Food wise it’s the kind of wine to drink with richer earthier flavours, game birds, game fish, pork, hard cheeses like Parmeggiano and Comte, japanese aromatics and food also would work wonders here. It certainly isn’t like a commercial or traditional styled white wine.

This wine due to the amount of complexity and layers built in has the ability to show many different personalities on different occasions and I really would encourage the right food and some time to go over it – Ryan Mostert