Oftentimes, when people think of popular white wine options, they think of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Gris. Chenin Blanc rarely even comes up in the conversation of white wine at all. Let's bring Chenin Blanc into the conversation. Let's broaden our white wine horizons.
Today's topic is going to be Chenin Blanc wine. Let's see if we can answer all of your Chenin Blanc questions!
What is Chenin Blanc Wine?
Let's start with a few of the basics. Chenin Blanc Wine is a white wine grape variety that dates back over a thousand years. It's very versatile! It's usually light-bodied with high acidity. There are several different styles of Chenin Blanc. It can be rich and round or citrusy. It can be sparkling. It can be very dry, very sweet, or somewhere in between.
Many people compare Chenin Blanc Wine to other white wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and even Riesling.
Where does Chenin Blanc originate from?
Chenin Blanc originates in the Loire Valley of France. Regarding wine regions specifically, Chenin Blanc originated in the Anjou region. The Chenin Blanc that comes from the Loire Valley in France is some of the most praised Chenin Blanc wines. According to Pierre Galet, Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley dates back over a thousand years, roughly the 9th century.
Many other wines come from the famous Loire Valley. Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc are just two examples of Loire Valley natives. In the Anjou region, it seems the Chenin Blanc reigns supreme in that region.
Overall, the Loire Valley in France remains one of the most well-known wine-making valleys in the world. Swimming in a prominent wine-making history, it's clear the Loire Valley creates some of the most world-class wines on the planet.
What part of France is the Loire Valley?
The Loire Valley stretches over roughly 170 miles of land in Central France. The Loire Valley is located near the middle of the Loire River. Many towns are part of the Loire Valley. Some include Amboise, Blois, Chinon, Saumur, and Angers.
Other names for Chenin Blanc?
Chenin Blanc wine can go by several different names. This tends to confuse consumers because it's hard to know what you're looking for.
The following names are equivalent to Chenin Blanc wine: including Bonnezeaux, Quarts de Chaume, Montlouis, Coteaux du Layon, Savennières, and Anjou. It may even be referred to as Pineau de la Loire. If you happen to be in a store and see any of these names on a wine bottle, you should know to expect a Chenin Blanc.
How is Chenin Blanc connected to South Africa?
Chenin Blanc is actually quite prominent in South Africa. South Africa is responsible for 50% of the planting of the Chenin Blanc wine variety. Other significant regions that plant the Chenin Blanc variety include France, Chenin Blanc's place of origin, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.
In South Africa, Chenin Blanc Wine goes by Steen. South African Steen tends to be more floral and fruit forward than French Chenin Blanc.
What flavors and aromas are in Chenin Blanc Wine?
The flavors in a Chenin Blanc wine tend to change depending on where the grape varietal comes from. For example, if it's a South African Chenin Blanc, the flavors tend to lean on the tropical side and you'll probably taste notes like mango, pineapple, and even banana.
There are many other flavors that you may come across. In a classic Chenin Blanc from France, you'll likely notice honey-like aromas, as well as apple and quince flavors.
Overall, oftentimes sweeter Chenin Blancs lean towards the mango, orange, and even sometimes permission flavors. On the dryer end, pear, apple, chamomile, and honey are often the key flavors you'll notice. Passionfruit flavors are also common in Chenin Blanc.
Is Chenin Blanc dry or sweet?
It honestly all depends on the bottle. Because Chenin Blanc has a diverse profile, it can be either dry or sweet. It all depends on how the wine is made and whether the wine is made from a single grape varietal or a blend.
What is the difference between Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc?
Now, you're probably wondering, what is the difference between Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon? On the outside, they seem very similar. Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc originate in the Loire Valley of France and come from popular white grape varieties. Although they may seem almost identical, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc have quite a few differences that set them apart.
Let's get the similarity out of the way. They both have high acidity and fragrant aromas.
Moving on to the differences, on a scale, dry to sweet, Sauvignon is either very dry or very sweet. Chenin Blanc can be somewhere in the middle of the dry-to-sweet scale. Sauvignon Blanc is seldom in the middle. It's either very dry or very sweet.
Regarding aroma, Sauvignon Blanc's aroma is commonly described as being grassy or citrusy. It tends to be on the herbal side. On the other hand, Chenin Blanc is not often, if ever, described as being grassy.
What are some Chenin Blanc wine options from France?
If what you know about Chenin Blanc so far seems like a wine you would enjoy, here are two options that you should get your hands
Domaine Vincent Carême Le Clos Vouvray 2015 Le Clos Vouvray 2015
Domaine Vincent Carême was created by Vincent Carême, a young man who was born with Vouvray in his veins. Coming from a Vouvray farming family, Vincent was always around wine. At 14, he was making wine. It wasn't until 1999 that Domaine Vincent Carême came to be. Vincent's passion lies with Chenin Blanc, and the estate is in the heart of Vouvray, the Loire Valley of France.
Made from 100% Chenin Blanc varietal, the Domaine Vincent Carême Le Close Vouvray 2015, has notes in this specific Chenin Blanc consisting of honey, apricots, and even truffles. It's full-bodied, creamy, and smooth. If you like your wine dry with higher acidity, try this one out! The finish lingers with a satisfying nature.
Marc Brédif Classic Vouvray Chenin Blanc 2020
Marc Brédif has been around since 1893 and has built quite the name for itself as "one of the most famous Vouvray and Chinon houses". Just under 100 years later, Baron de Ladoucette took over and reinvigorated things while keeping the traditions intact. The grapes come from the Chinon area and the wine is stored in beautiful cave cellars. Marc Brédif prides itself on creating quality wines with quality grapes.
Made from 100% Chenin Blanc varietals, the Marc Brédif Classic Vouvray is full of the ripe notes of peaches, pears, pineapples, and citrus. It's exotic yet balanced; rich yet lively. Made in France, the standards to make a Marc Brédif wine are high and exceptional. The grapes that make Marc Bredif wine are handled with extra care, and only hand-picked to avoid any bruising.
What are some Chenin Blanc options from South Africa?
Several different Chenin Blanc, or should I say, Steen, options come from South Africa. Here are three options if you'd like to explore and taste the differences between Chenin Blanc from France and South Africa.
Indaba Chenin Blanc 2018
Indaba Wines are made in the South African Winelands. Grapes are handpicked with care to guarantee premium quality. Indaba Wines is committed to being sustainable and eco-friendly.
The Indaba Chenin Blanc is made of 100% Chenin blanc varietals in the Western Cape appellation. Remember when I mentioned that South African Chenin Blanc tends to lean on the tropical side? Well, Indaba Chenin Blanc, you guessed it, leans on the tropical side. You'll notice notes of golden apples, tropical fruit, and honeyed pears. This Chenin Blanc is known to be the "Cape's signature white". It's also crisp and citrusy, creating a balance between sweetness and acidity.
MAN Family Wines Coastal Region Chenin Blanc 2019
MAN Family Wines has been around for just over two decades. What started in a tractor shed has turned into quite a successful business over the last twenty years.
The MAN Chenin Blanc is crisp and light-bodied. This Chenin Blanc has aromas of pineapple, quince, and pineapple. However, on the palate, you'll notice flavors of fresh apples and stone fruit. Overall, it's balanced by the acidity and crisp flavors. Drink it chilled for an optimal experience.
This Chenin Blanc is also known as a Free-Run Steen. This means that the grapes are not pressed in the wine-making process. To preserve the acidity and natural character of the grapes, MAN Family Wines only uses free-run juice to get that natural ripe fruit flavors.
(It's time for a side note. If you know what stone fruit refers to, you can skip this. What is stone fruit? Stone fruits are also known as drupes. Usually, a stone fruit is a fruit with a thin skin and a seed in the middle. Some examples include fruits like plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots, dates, mangos, and several others. Okay, now that we're all caught up on stone fruits, let's move on!)
Raats Stellenbosch Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2018
Raats Family Wines was founded in the year 2000 by Bruwer Raats. Raats believed that specializing in specific wines would be a smart business move. It seems that Raats was right. Raats Family Wines doesn't make a full range, instead they specialize in Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc. That's all there is to it.
Made of 100% Chenin Blanc varietal, the Raats Old Vine Chenin Blanc has complex notes of yellow apple, quince, mandarin orange, and a hint of ginger to provide some dimension. The origin of the Raats Chenin Blanc is Stellenbosch, South Africa. You'll also taste ripe notes of apricot and nectarine along with honeycomb and shaved almonds. It's balanced, delicate, and fresh!
Raats Original Unwooded Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2019 is another Chenin Blanc option. This option is unwooded. This option is unwooded, meaning the aging happens in stainless steel tanks instead of the classic oak barrel. This method will maintain the originality of the wine and provide you with a raw Chenin Blanc.
Are any Chenin Blancs made outside of France or South Africa?
Yes! Dry Creek Vineyard makes a Chenin Blanc inspired by the Loire Valley Chenin Blanc. Made in the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, CA, Dry Creek uses stainless steel tanks like the Raats Unwooded Chenin Blanc. Dry Creek Chenin Blanc has aromas of watermelon, honeydew, and mango. Dry Creek has made Chenin Blanc a staple wine and produces every year.
Herzog Wine Cellars also carries a Chenin Blanc made at its Ventura County Winery. Alongside Herzog, we have the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc; however, it is a Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend. They also have a sparkling Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend option.
Liquorama even carries a Chenin Blanc made in Mexico! Made in the Santo Tomas Vineyard, Bodegas Henri Lurton makes a Chenin Blanc that's a rich and decadent option.
What are good Chenin Blanc food pairings?
Knowing what your wine pairs well with makes your dinner experience all the better. In my opinion, your drink matters just as much as your meal.
If your Chenin Blanc is on the dry end, try pairing it with a dish with goat cheese, poultry, or pork. If your Chenin Blanc is on the sweeter end, try pairing it with creamy fish, poultry, or cheeses made with rich milks. Sweet Chenin Blanc is also known to pair well with spicier foods. Generally, Chenin Blanc pairs well with vegetarian dishes, rich seafood dishes, and cheese platters.
Sweet Chenin Blanc sparkling wines are also known to pair well with spicy food.
Because Chenin Blanc is so versatile, the food pairings are as well. Pair it with anything
Does that answer all your Chenin Blanc questions? Do you think Chenin Blanc is something you'd like to try? Change up your usual white wine selection with some refreshing Chenin Blanc. Check out our wide range of Chenin Blanc wines on the Liquorama store website.
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