Wine & Travel Update

June 3, 2021

We highlight unique and interesting wines, how to buy them locally, and how to experience these wines where they are made.


Learn about Chenin Blanc in South Africa

While the Loire Valley may be the viticultural birthplace of Chenin blanc, the grape’s true resurgence lies in South Africa, where two-thirds of the world’s Chenin blanc originates. Also locally named steen, Chenin blanc currently occupies nearly 20% of the South Africa's vineyards. It is mostly grown in the coastal regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Swartland of the Western Cape Province, each with distinctive terroir.

Chenin blanc is known for its versatility. With naturally high acidity, it is easily produced as a dry, sweet or sparkling wine, each with a range of nuanced flavors. While it is most commonly enjoyed young, releases from this region can age well for up to a decade.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Chenin blanc was the principal grape in the South African wine industry's "white wine renaissance" producing off-dry, clean, and crisp wine that was mostly neutral in flavor and could capitalize on the wine market's demand for white wine.

Near the end of the 20th century, several Chenin blanc specialist producers emerged and worked with vineyard managers to isolate older Chenin vines on suitable terroir. Their goal was to produce wines that exhibited Chenin's unique aromas and traits, resulting in improved quality profiles of South African Chenin blanc wines.


Today, South African Chenin blanc is having a moment of reinvention and reintroduction to the world, proving itself a noble variety capable of producing world-class wines. Chenin blanc thrives in many of the country’s designated WO (Wine of Origin) regions, producing particularly stunning wines in Stellenbosch and Swartland where they are making concentrated, rich wines that tend to be more tropical in character than their Loire Valley counterparts, displaying flavors of pineapple, melon, guava and banana.

Because of chenin blanc’s awesome acidity and inherently sweet flavor, you’ll find it pairs well with foods that have a sweet and sour element. Southeast Asian cuisine or pork chops with apples paired with a richer and sweeter style chenin blanc will blow your mind.

There are several white wines out there with enough gusto to moisten even the driest turkey. Try a high quality South African chenin blanc with your Thanksgiving dinner. It will even handle cranberry sauce like it was born to do so.

Chenin blanc wines from South Africa are available in the USA with somewhat limited choices. These wines are typically in the $8 to $13 price range, with a reserve wine from Stellenbosch priced around $40.


Wine tasting is one of the best things to do in Cape Town. The Constantia Wine Route is no more than 20 minutes away from the city. The magnificent landscape is home to some of the country’s oldest and most prestigious wine farms dating back to the 1650s. Stellenbosch was the first region to establish a formal route among the wineries—a route which has gone on to become one of the country’s six most popular tourist destinations.

Paarl, aptly named after early explorers likened the round granite rock that sits high above the town to that of a pearl, was home to the famous "Co-operative Wine Growers' Association" (better known by its Afrikaans initials KWV).

Of all the regions in South Africa that have yet to realize their potential fully, Swartland undoubtedly offers the most promise. Situated to the north-west of Paarl, Swartland (Black land in Dutch) is increasingly recognized for its excellent terroir, allowing for aromatic Chenin Blanc and other award winning wines.

We can help make a tour of the Cape Winelands an important part of your overall South African experience. Let us know when you are ready to visit beautiful South Africa.

Coggin Travels Hosted Wine Cruises

Learn about wine while cruising with Sommelier Jeff Coggin

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The Douro River Valley - Home of Port Wine

8 Days Roundtrip from Porto, Portugal

​​​October 31, 2021 aboard the S.S. SÃO GABRIEL

This is a luxury boutique river cruise from Uniworld aboard a brand new 100 passenger ship.

Premium Wine Upgrade - Your host will procure your favorite local wines to share at dinner each evening

A Taste of Burgundy

on the Lewis & Clark Trail

8 days from Clarkston, WA to Portland OR

On the Columbia and Snake Rivers

May 11, 2022 aboard the AMERICAN HARMONY

Includes 5 Exclusive Burgundy Wine Dinners with Premium Wines from Chateau de Pommard

This cruse is filling quickly with main deck accommodations already sold out. Call us now to make a deposit and hold a room.

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Our next edition of the Wine & Travel Update will highlight the wines of Croatia.