Pine Ridge CB+V Chenin Blanc - Viognier 2013
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Blending Chenin Blanc with Viognier—it was just an experiment. Until it was tasted and it was realized CB+V was a masterpiece. Together, they deliver a unique tapestry of flavors and aromas that are elegant and easy to enjoy. The Chenin Blanc hails from Clarksburg, which is located in the Sacramento River Delta. This locale experiences temperatures in excess of 90° during the day but a much cooler climate in the evening. This kind of differential creates ideal ripening conditions where the fruit can develop lush, ripe flavors but retain enough natural acidity for excellent balance. Here, the loamy mineral rich soils give Chenin Blanc a “honey” character, which is one of its defining characteristics. Southeast of Clarksburg is Lodi, where the Viognier is grown. Lodi experiences a Mediterranean climate, and because of ancient river sediment, the vineyards contain large stones similar to those found in France’s Rhone Valley, the original home of Viognier. This versatile wine pairs well with a number of dishes, from light salads to seafood, and most notably with foods with a hint of spiciness—its subtle sweetness provides balance alongside a touch of heat. It’s the perfect pour for the start of an evening with appetizers or a platter of salumi. Also try Chenin Blanc + Viognier with a flavorful Thai curry, a frittata with sweet onions and ricotta, or a shrimp and avocado tostada. For a perfect cheese pairing, enjoy CB+V with a dense, lemony goat’s milk French Chabichou du Poitou.
Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied. Plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. While most would agree it reigns supreme when from its birthplace of the Loire Valley, Chenin is the most planted variety in South Africa. California’s Clarksburg appellation is also winning more notoriety for its Chenin.
In the Glass
Chenin's drier versions commonly have characteristics of passion fruit, lemon, quince, green apple, saffron and chamomile while sweeter version express aromas and flavors such as yellow pear, white peach, persimmon, melon, ginger and honeysuckle. When aged in oak, qualities like meringue and brioche can be found. Sparkling versions often have yellow apple, ginger and floral notes.
Cool-climate Chenin blanc has the chalky acidity to work with light seafood such as oysters and shellfish. Off-dry styles work well with the sweet-and-sour nature of Thai and Vietnamese food. The sparkling versions such as Saumur Mousseux, Vouvray Petillant and Crémant de Loire make amazing aperitif options that won’t bruise the pocketbook.
South Africa actually has double the amount of Chenin blanc planted compared to France. It is believed that either the Dutch navigator, Jan van Riebeeck, brought the grape to Cape Town in 1655 or the Huguenots fleeing France brought it in 1685. Either way, the South Africans have favored it for many centuries and make it in almost every style. Today a new wave of dedicated producers has committed to restoring old Chenin vines and finding the most ideal new spots for this prized variety.