Chenin Blanc is a highly-acidic, non-aromatic grape whose home is in France’s Loire Valley where some of its finest expressions are found. Winemakers love this versatile grape because they can make it in still or sparkling, sweet or dry styles with equal success.
Its flavours range from lean, crisp, green fruit in dry styles to ginger, passion fruit, and honey in off-dry wines. Orange, mango, and almond feature in sweet wines while sparkling styles range from dry to sweet with similar flavours to their dry counterpart ̶ just with the gorgeous mousse and brioche notes from traditional method bubbly! It’s particularly suited to noble rot wines with Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux in the Loire world-famous for their sweet, apricot- and citrus-rich Chenin Blanc.
The other wine region renowned for top-tier wines made from this grape is South Africa where it thrives and is the most widely planted grape. In fact, while France is Chenin Blanc’s birthplace, South Africa is where most of the world’s Chenin vineyards are. Here, it’s made in two styles: fresh, easy-drinking wines that feature stone fruit flavours and citrus made to be enjoyed young and a premium style with concentrated fruit from old vines. The latter are full-bodied, complex and textured thanks to the quality of the fruit as well as fermentation and maturation in oak. There’s a style of Chenin Blanc for every wine lover so, if you haven’t already, start exploring this wonderfully diverse grape!
Fun fact: Chenin Blanc is known for ripening unevenly with unripe and fully developed grapes rubbing shoulders within one bunch. For this reason, it may be necessary to do several harvests in one vineyard in order to carefully select fruit according to the style the winemaker wants to make.