An extremely versatile variety of grape,
Chenin Blanc is capable of making dry and crisp white wines that are
great as an aperitif, through to medium, unctuous and sweet styles.
Due to the keen and vibrant acidity often
found in Chenin Blanc grape, they make brilliant food wines and can stay
in good shape for many years after the vintage. The grape seems to
thrive best in marginal climates, such as the Loire Valley, and on
chalky soils. Along the Loire Valley in Vouvray, Montlouis, Anjou,
Bonnezeaux, Quarts de Chaume, and Coteaux du Layon, Chenin can be
hugely complex and of great character. The most amazing quality of
Chenin Blanc wines is their longevity. Curiously, they become sweeter
rather than drier with age. These are wines that can really benefit from
bottle maturation and consequently make really good presents for
christening or naming ceremonies! The best Chenin Blanc are some of the
wine world's most undervalued treasures.
Less exciting wines are produced
elsewhere, in South Africa for example, Chenin Blancs, known locally as
Steen, often lack in complexity unless they are made from low-yielding
bush bines, or the winemaking is in the capable hands of a conscientious
producer. Old vine Chenin can take on another dimension when barrel
fermented or aged in oak.
Chenin Blanc wines are made in the Loire,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and California. The sweet wines are
found in the Loire and South Africa.