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At a glance

Country of Origin: France
Region of Origin: Loire Valley
Typical Product: White
Structure: Light
Climate: Cool
Soil Type: Calcareous, Chalk, Limestone, Sc
Serving Temp: 45 - 50F
Ageability: 2 to 4**
Sauces to Pair:
Meals to Pair:
Other Names*:


Chenin Blanc has been around for a long time.  Reliable documentation puts it in Anjou in the Loire Valley of France by 845AD and recent DNA evidence points to Chenin Blanc as an ancestor of Sauvignon Blanc.  It first spread out of France to South Africa, most likely in the mid 17th century by way of the Dutch East India Company.  It arrived in California at UC Davis where cuttings were provided to growers after World War II in the North Coast.  It expanded rapidly until the 1980s but since then, numbers have declined and it's now used primarily as a blending component for white table and sparkling wines.  Plantings in Oregon and Washington are all but gone.

Chenin Blanc can be frustrating to many wine makers.  It buds early, ripens late but does best in cooler growing conditions, which make ripening the fruit even more difficult.   When planted in warmer regions, the fruit will ripen but usually renders a sweet, characterless wine lower in acid and better suited for blending.

In reality though, Chenin Blanc is still misunderstood in the New World.  Say Chenin Blanc to a Californian wine drinker and you'll likely get a snide comment about sweet wines for people who 'really don't like wine' and there are a number of bulk wines that fit that description.  However, Chenin Blanc is capable of producing fresh, clean and well balanced wines but they typically need to be cellared for twenty years or more.  It's likely US resurgence though will be due to a small number of growers who are beginning to embrace what the grape does offer when affected by a curious condition called Botrytis Cinerea or 'Noble Rot'.  Noble Rot is a mold that can leach water from wine grapes leaving more solids, usually sugars as well as acids and trace minerals creating a type of wine that is quite sweet but also has enough acid to balance the sugars.  Embracing the trend will likely lead to a minor resurgence for Chenin Blanc but it will never reach the levels produced in the 70s, or rival the other whites as wine with a large, dedicated following.

**Disclaimer on ageability - Chenin Blanc is one of the few wines that are made in two different styles, the mass produced ones from California's central valley tend to be sweet with little acid and wont age more than a few years.  Those made from grapes from cooler regions can and should be laid down for 7 years or more. 

* used in California

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Name Vintage Year Price Tasting Comments
2011  $12.00   
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