#DrinkChenin - June 10th

It should be acknowledged that while Chenin Blanc may not reign as the world's foremost grape variety, its unique character draws both fervent admirers and staunch detractors, much like its famed counterpart, Riesling. Nevertheless, today marks the celebration of Chenin Blanc Day, a perfect occasion to delve into the intricacies of this fascinating grape variety and explore the fine nuances.

A glass of Crémant de Loire can be so delicious (Photo: Louise Lyshøj/unsplash.com)

A Global Grape with French Roots

Chenin Blanc vines are mostly found in South Africa, where it was previously called 'Steen'. The grape has been around since 800 AD in France's Loire Valley.

Wine enthusiasts highly seek the esteemed expressions from this region, which is considered the grape's ancestral home. Interestingly, DNA analysis suggests Chenin Blanc may be a sibling of Sauvignon Blanc, both sharing a common parent in Savagnin.

A Food-Friendly Alternative

Chenin Blanc's higher acidity levels make it a superb food pairing. However, because of variations in growing conditions and vintages, the flavor profile can vary widely. Knowing what's in the bottle becomes key to creating a successful culinary match.

A Spectrum of Styles

Chenin Blanc's versatility extends to its style. Winemakers can vinify this grape into dry, off-dry, or fully sweet wines. It can be enjoyed still or sparkling, as exemplified by Crémant de Loire. The color spectrum ranges from pale straw to pale amber, adding another layer of intrigue.

A Grape with Finesse

Chenin Blanc is a finicky grape. Excessive yields result in bland wines, and harvesting too early leads to undesirable outcomes. This characteristic has contributed to a decline in global Chenin Blanc plantings. However, similar sensitive grapes like Pinot Noir have seen renewed interest in recent decades, suggesting a potential resurgence for Chenin Blanc.

For quintessential expressions of Chenin Blanc, look to the Loire Valley's Vouvray, Anjou, and Savennières regions. As one of the oldest AOPs since 1936, Vouvray maintains its legendary status among the Loire appellations with its world-class Chenin Blanc which also can be found in its botrytised form bottled as a delicious dessert wine. This proneness to botrytis is another similar point Chenin Blanc shares with Riesling, hence the diversity in wine styles from refreshing crisp sparklings to outstanding sweet wines with a honeyed and beeswaxy character.

Coteaux du Layon, for instance, gives home to some of the Loire Valley's most celebrated sweet wines. Notably, Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux stand out as two iconic sites, producing some of the world's finest sweet wines.

The Greengage Whisper

Chenin Blanc has many different flavors and smells such as pear, chamomile, or honey, but two certain words often come up in blind tastings. One of them is 'Greengage'. This highly prized dessert green plum, originating in Iran, offers a distinctive hint that can reveal the presence of Chenin Blanc in the glass. The other one you might have come across in the context of Chenin Blanc is ‘wool’ or a certain linalol character which makes it easy to detect the grape variety in any blind tasting.

Greengage is a unique descriptor of Chenin Blanc (Photo: Lars Blankers/unsplash.com)

With its rich history, global presence, and incredible versatility, Chenin Blanc is a true gem that makes sure there is a style for everyones liking and anybody can find their personal favorite. Check out our list of Chenins to be discovered.


Lotte Gabrovits






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