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Shen-Nin Blonk Chenin Blanc is a white wine grape, originating from the Loire Valley region of France. It is regarded in France as a noble and elegant grape and is suitable for producing a variety of wine styles. It is also grown widely in New World regions, such as New Zealand, Australia and the USA. However, South Africa is where Chenin Blanc has truly taken off. In the past, it was used as a blending wine in South Africa, and as a basis for brandies, due to its talent for retaining high levels of acidity in hot weather. It also gained a South African nickname – “Steen”. Nowadays it has begun to be recognised as a single-varietal, and South African producers are making some delicious exotic-tasting Chenin Blanc wines. Chenin Blanc is a vigorous grape, and crops usually have to be pruned to make the fruits more concentrated. It grows in loosely packed bunches, and the fruits are a yellowish green and small to medium-sized.

Chenin Blanc Tasting Notes

Chenin Blanc can be expressed in several ways, from light, easy-drinking white wines to more serious, full-bodied ones. It can also range in color, from a light, pale yellow to an orange/amber hue. It is notable for its high acid content. In terms of alcohol content, Chenin Blanc can range from 11-14%. While New World versions can be more exotic, the classic flavours associated with Chenin Blanc are yellow and orange fruits and floral, herbaceous notes. Look out for aromas and flavours of apple, peach, passionfruit, lime and orange peel, supported by elements of honey, chamomile, ginger, jasmine and lemon balm. In full-bodied, oaked styles, Chenin Blanc can also exhibit tertiary notes of popcorn, brioche and richer, baked apple.

Chenin Blanc Styles

In France, Chenin Blanc is mostly planted within the Loire Valley. It is used for a great variety of styles, including Botrytized dessert wines, sparkling wines, and classic dry whites. Due to its high acidity, Chenin Blanc can easily be made in a sweet style and responds very well to noble rot. These styles show interesting nutty flavors, as well as slightly tropical mango notes and flavors of honey, ginger and dried orange. Chenin Blanc sparkling wines, particularly Cremant de Loire, can be highly acidic and refreshing, with notable floral and nutty notes. It’s worth remembering that Chenin Blanc is heavily influenced by its terroir. Within these respective styles, flavor profiles can also change depending on where the grapes were grown. For example, dry whites from within the Savennieres appellation of the Loire Valley can be lean and full of minerality, with green apple flavors. Meanwhile, dry-style Chenin Blanc from nearby Vouvray can end up tasting more exotic and honey-like. In South Africa, the tropical side of Chenin Blanc is much more prominent. Historically, it was used to satisfy consumers during the country’s white wine boom, with neutral, off-dry whites, and usage in white wine blends. Nowadays, it is becoming more common to see rich, complex styles of single-varietal Chenin Blanc, bursting with passion fruit, mango, pineapple, banana and melon flavors.

When To Drink Chenin Blanc

Thanks to its intense acidity and diverse range of styles, Chenin Blanc is an excellent wine for serving with a variety of food. Imagine for a moment that it’s a family takeaway night. Your mom has ordered a sweet and sour Chinese dish, your dad has ordered fish and chips, and you have a creamy Italian pasta dish with pork – Chenin Blanc is versatile enough to pair with them all. It goes particularly well with classic white wine food, such as flakey white fish and creamy sauces. There’s no need to decant Chenin Blanc before serving, it tends to be fresh and generous enough without any time spent breathing. It’s best served chilled, at around 45-49ºF (7-9 ºC).

Best Years To Drink Chenin Blanc

Cellaring lengths for Chenin Blanc totally depend on the style it was made in. The best and most age-worthy examples of this wine are found within the Loire Valley. Of dry wine styles, those from the Savennières appellation are considered to be the best and can age in the bottle for 15 years or so. Semi-sweet, sweet or botrytized wines contain a lot of residual sugar along with their naturally high acidity, so they can last even longer. The best examples are those from the Vouvray Moelleux appellation. Wines from great years are pretty much immortal and are still enjoyable after a century of aging. However, successful aging all depends on the structure and quality of the wine. It is likely that a decent, more affordable example of Chenin Blanc shouldn’t be aged for more than 5 years.

Chenin Blanc Average Prices

You can get an excellent quality Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley’s best appellations for around $40-60. There are also some excellent South African examples available for slightly less, around the $20 mark.

Chenin Blanc Nutrition Facts

A glass of single-varietal Chenin Blanc will contain approximately:
  • 120 calories
  • 4.9 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0.1 grams of protein

Fun Facts About Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is a sibling of the Sauvignon Blanc and Trousseau varietals. The name Chenin Blanc was first mentioned in official French documents in 845 AD. As well as the South African nickname, Steen, Chenin Blanc can be known as Pineau, Chenin, Pineau de la Loire, and Pineau d’Anjou.
Chenin Blanc vs Sauvignon Blanc
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Similarities of Chenin Blanc vs. Sauvignon Blanc Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc have many similarities. Both wines are delicious, white wines originating in France. These wines are both well balanced with a medium body and moderate alcohol content. Both wines … Read More