‘Chenin is a refreshing varietal that can be made in completely different styles – and it goes really well with summer foods,’ says Spier Wine Farm executive chef Lolli Heyns. Chenin Blanc is also my own personal favourite wine to sip all summer long, and I can’t wait to try it in Lolli’s West Coast mussels in white wine cream sauce this weekend.
By Roxy Greeff
A Chenin Blanc’s ability to make your mouth water is reason enough to open up a bottle and pour yourself a glass. Its fruity, tropical taste makes it that much more beautiful. Best paired with earthier flavours, the crispness cuts right through, giving your palate the perfect balance between crispness and richness.
Spier’s 21 Gables Chenin Blanc grapes come from vines 40-year-old vines in a single vineyard in Durbanville. From there, the wine is oak-fermented and then matured for 14 months. On the nose there are immediately notes of ripe apples, and on the tongue it is slightly savoury, helping to create a complexity of flavours that go beyond just ‘fruity’. It is a powerful, full-bodied wine that will age well in your wine rack for up to 10 years.
But back to the food…
West Coast mussels with white wine, leeks, lemon and cream
SERVES 4-6 // COOKING TIME 30 min
1.5 – 2 kg mussels
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 small bunch leeks, finely chopped
2–3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ bottle Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc
125 ml cream
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper
Chopped herbs, to serve
1. Rinse the mussels under cold tap water to clean them. Scrub the outsides if they are a little hairy, then pull off the grassy ‘beard’ from the pointy side to the round side. Remember, any mussels that won’t close before cooking must be discarded. And any mussels that won’t open after cooking, can also be tossed.
2. In a wide heavy-based pot or casserole, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Fry the leeks and garlic until soft and translucent, but not too brown.
3. Add the wine, turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
4. Add the mussels all at once and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil again and steam for 5–8 minutes until they are open and just-cooked.
5. Add the cream and heat through, then take off the heat and add the lemon. Season to taste with salt and pepper (some mussels can be very salty already, so be careful).
6. Serve scattered with chopped herbs and a glass of Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc.