Chenin Blanc

Updated: Aug 23, 2021


Summer weather allows me to show more white wines to my guests, simply because it is hot, people who prefer red wines typically, seem to be open minded to a refreshing, crisp white wine. Chenin Blanc is just that type of wine. I refer to apples a lot when teaching about this grape, my favorites come from the Loire River Valley, in northern France in an area called Vouvray. Proximity to Normandy apple country, and similar color and flavors to Honeycrisps. The wines tend to be light bodied, with good acidity, I find aromas of apple, melon, and honey. People often think that wines from Vouvray are sweet, and some are, but as is the case with all wines railroaded into the sweet column, there are many producers who ferment them drier. Vouvray produces a numerous level of quality wines, and though most are consumed fresh and young, I have found ageing a quality Vouvray can show some really interesting and fun changes, including an weightier body, and a definite honeycomb beeswax aromatic, I would urge you to find a producer who makes the style you enjoy before considering ageing a couple.

Chenin Blanc is produced domestically too. It enjoys a cooler climate, so look to Sonoma, Monterey, and Oregon more frequently than our hotter climates. In the states it is a little fuller in body, and shows more fruit and more alcohol. It still retains crisp acid, and it will rarely be oak aged. I have a favorite domestic producer who used to make a blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier, I am not sure if it is still out there, but it is a Sonoma producer, and worth seeking out.

If you want to try something that is not on most restaurant wine lists, and may take a little searching around, the South African winemakers produce lovely Chenin Blancs called Steen in south Africa. A bit warmer climate, yet coastal and moderately cool, Steen has good weight, balanced with good acid, and more fruit than it's Loire Valley counterpart. If you are interested we could create a compare/contrast class of a South African, Domestic, and Vouvray Chenin Blanc.

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