Carrie’s Corner: ‘Mr Chenin Blanc’, Ken Forrester

In the early nineties, Ken Forrester and his family settled into a rundown farm in the Stellenbosch area. He and his wife, Teresa, renovated the Chenin farm, transforming it into what it is today. When asked why Chenin, Forrester replies ‘It was well-established. I’d been to France and I’d seen Chenin in the Loire Valley and I couldn’t believe it was a missing part of a puzzle that nobody had played with in South Africa’. – Jarryd Neves

Carrie Adams on Ken Forrester:

Ken took the world by storm in the mid-seventies. He was gorgeous – still gorgeous – but in the mid-seventies, Ken was unstoppable. He was brilliant. He was with Southern Sun. He made himself a name as an operator and a restauranteur of note. Anybody who has never eaten [his] duck and cherry pie needs to put that on a bucket list. It’s fabulous. Then he took his bride, Teresa, off to to Stellenbosch in 1993.

They bought a farm that was called Scholtzenhof in those days and turned it into Ken Forrester winery. Today, it is still Ken Forrester Winery. He launched a whole foray into the world of Chenin Blanc, which we’re going to speak to him about this evening. They’ve done fantastically well.

Ken Forrester on their harvest:

Every harvest is like a first date. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Every single harvest, it bristles with excitement [and] expectation. You’ve done all you can, put all you can into it. You’ve done all the clever things you’ve been taught or know how to do. You’ve taken all the notes from last year and the 25 years beforehand. You apply all of this stuff fastidiously and nature kindly does whatever she wants to do. She’s gorgeous, she really is beautiful.

Ken Forrester on Chenin blanc:

I looked at Chenin blanc. We came down here, looked at these vineyards and at the property. We bought the property the on a whim. It was 1993 and the Third Force was running amok in KZN. Most of our friends were leaving the country and going to New Zealand, Canada or England. I decided we could just semigrate to the Cape and buy the biggest piece of property we couldn’t afford. It was going to be a great deal.

[Chenin blanc] was well-established. I’d been to France and I’d seen Chenin in the Loire Valley and I couldn’t believe it was a missing part of a puzzle that nobody had played with in South Africa

Ken Forrester on FMC:

It’s a shocking admission to make, but I can’t believe that we have made FMC consistently now for 22 years. We just released our 20th vintage this week. The 2019 is our 20th vintage. 2000 was our first vintage and that was groundbreaking stuff for Chenin blanc. We launched that wine at the Cape Independent Winemakers Guild and it sold – much to our amazement and pleasure – at a record price. The same price as the most expensive chardonnay of the day.

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