A beautiful little lovely

Noa Chenin from Donovan Rall is named after Donovan’s second daughter (‘Noa’, if you cannot work that out for yourselves). What is more interesting to us is that, based on the warm-up sample I have had, it is flipping fantastic and just the kind of thing that we lovers of the beautiful… errr… love.

The highest, most granitic part of a Swartland vineyard, planted in 1969, harvested, vinified and matured part in one concrete egg and part in one old oak foudre is made into Noa. It is NOT the kind of thing erstwhile supporter of Elitistreview Keith Prothero would like: it is merely 12%!

I do the fine gent a disservice, in this characterisation of him as a booze-monster. He is very much a fan of the style of wine that this has much in common with – but we shall come to that!

This wine also demonstrates how wildly Chenin Blanc has varied from its home in the Loire valley. Unless you were well acquainted with the beautiful-style of Saffer Chenin, there is no way you would guess it was that that grape varietal if you were given it blind.

The thing you need to know about this wine is that it is utterly lovely. And I am not saying that because I am pissed! I have drunk about a third of the bottle (to The Editor’s two-thirds, forgive him any of my spelling mistakes that pass in a haze past his eyes) and, as I said, it is only 12%; I am stone-cold sober!

Noa Chenin 2022, Rall

Noa Chenin 2022, Rall

I took this Noa Chenin out of the fridge 45 minutes before we drank it, as it is terribly important not to serve your serious white wines too cold. I admit my perceptions of it did not change too much between the sample I had on de-fridging and my first glass with dinner, but then I am a terribly, terribly analytical taster.

The Noa Chenin has a lot of lime and pear fruit, it is like a Hunter Valley Semillon, so a Nonter Chemillon, then. Not my best joke, but I just toss them off. It has a similar waxy, oily character too, that makes me think this is a reasonable comparison.

It is a little more herbal, with a little more malic fruit than a Hunter Semillon, but unless you were an expert in assessing degrees of alcohol, I would forgive you for getting this wrong. Noa Chenin is very light, very zesty, very elegant and absolutely attractive on the nose. To sniff this is to love it.

The palate is very light and refined too. Beautiful interplay between apple/pear fruit, lime zest and acidity here. It is extraordinarily concentrated and would be considered obscenely long in even a very lewd rhythm-video.

Noa Chenin’s palate also has a bit of that herbal quality, totally unlike the damp, wet, rotting wood of a Loire Chenin, but livid and lively, perky and pert, special and spunky. It is vibrant, exciting and full of thrills.

Much like a Hunter Semillon, this has an awfully long future of pleasure-giving ahead of it. It is just a baby, not really ready for such wanton plucking by two such big men as The Editor and me.

You could keep this for 10-15 years, easily, and it would only become more complex and expressive of wonderful fruit from that old, excellent vineyard. This is better than all the crap Northern Italian whites I had in Italy last week. It is better than all the good ones I had, too.

Do try to score some, then drink it over its long life. You will be rewarded.


Buy from Justerini and Brooks.

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