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Grape Varietals

Chenin Blanc

Chenin-Blanc-Grapes

Vouvray

South-African-Chenin-Blanc

Introduction

Chenin Blanc is a white wine grape variety that originated in Loire Valley, France. Outside of France, it is most commonly found in New World wine regions like South Africa and United States. It is considered to be one of the most versatile grapes since it can be used to produce still as well as sparkling wine, sweet as well as dry wine, cheap bulk wines as well as expensive fine wines that may improve considerably with age. It has a fairly neutral palate that allows the expression of terroir, vintage variation and winemaking treatments. The grape can distinguish itself as a single varietal wine or add acidity as a blending component.

 

Chenin Blanc Wines

The climate of the wine region tends to dictate what style of Chenin Blanc is most prevalent in the area.  Cooler regions grapes are more acidic which are suitable for producing dry styles and sparkling wines. Warmer zones with a continental climate produce fruitier wines with more body and also promote the development of the noble rot or Botrytis producing sweeter styles of Chenin Blanc. Cooler climate wines are crisp and light bodied with aromas and flavours of apples and chalky minerals that develop into aromas of honey and quince. Warmer climate Chenins have more pronounced tropical fruit flavours of pear, guava, pineapple and banana with honey and floral aromas.Sweet Chenins produced from noble rot have aromas of honey and peaches. No matter where the wine is from, high acidity is found uniformly across regions.

France produces premium quality dry, sweet and sparkling Chenin Blancs wines that are expressive of terroir. High quality wines produced from best vintages can age for a long time. Best Chenin Blancs in France come from the Anjou, Vouvray, Saumur, Touraine to name a few; all lying in the Loire Valley. Other regions in France producing Chenin Blanc wines include Corsica and Languedoc.

Outside of France, Chenin Blanc is widely produced in South Africa, accounting for nearly 1/5th of its grape plantings. South African Chenin Blanc wines tend to be more expressive of tropical fruit characteristics as compared to the ones from France. Majority of Chenin Blanc in South Africa is planted in the Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Worcester regions.

 

Food Pairing

Since the grape itself is so versatile making all kinds of wines, Chenin Blanc wine most definitely pairs with a wide range of foods. Lighter, dry styles can pair well with light dishes such as salads, fish, and chicken. The mildly sweet styles of Chenin Blanc wine can balance the spicy heat of some Asian and mildly spiced Indian cuisines. The acidity and balance of medium-dry styles can pair well with cream sauces and fried foods. Sweet Chenin Blanc wine can be paired with salty cheeses like blue cheese; also with sweet treats like fruit tarts, cheese cakes, macaroons, apple pie, caramalised fruit, etc.

 

Interesting Facts

In 1999, DNA profiling conducted in Austria suggested that Chenin Blanc may be a parent of Sauvignon Blanc.

Even though Chenin Blanc was introduced to South Africa way back in 1655, it wasn’t until 1965 that it was concretely identified as that. It was known as Steen for over 200 years.

The aging ability of sweet Loire Chenin blanc is among the longest lived in the world of wine with well-made examples from favourable vintages regularly having the potential to last for at least 100 years.

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