Model of Versatility
The best representation of the Chenin Blanc grape can be found in the
of France - more specifically, the regions of Vouvray, Savennieres,
Anjou and Samur. The versatility of the grape allows it to produce wines both
dry and sweet, still and sparkling - and you can find all examples in the Loire.
It's found in South
as well, where it's called Steen and is typically made in the dry
style. It used to be a popular grape in California
but it's late-ripening and
the warm weather promoted over-cropping and the wine produced a neutral and bland product for many producers.
Luckily, some California producers are fostering the grape for a comeback.
Soils are often the defining factor of a Chenin style. In the Loire, the heavier,
clay-based soils are best for fostering late ripening, sweet Chenin Blanc -
the chalky, more limestone-based soils are responsible for many of the lighter,
crisper styles of the grape. Sweet Chenin Blanc is sometimes affected by botrytis,
the mold that creates the sweet wines of Sauternes. These wines are long lasting
and like honey and nectar on the palate. The dry style of Chenin Blanc is a crisp, refreshing wine with citrus flavors
offset by an almost creamy texture. Good Chenin Blancs are delightful wines, versatile with a wide
range of food depending on their sweetness level.
Summing it up
Successful Sites: Loire Valley, South Africa, some California
Common Descriptors: honey, damp straw, green apple, floral, mineral