A Wine Cellar guide to Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc originates in France’s Loire Valley. An extremely versatile wine grape, it can be produced in a wide range of styles, from fresh, fruity and floral to rich and honeyed with vibrant acidity. The wines can be dry, medium dry or sweet, and can be still or sparkling.
The Loire’s dessert Chenins are amongst the finest and longest-ageing white wines in the world, whilst South Africa’s Chenins are being celebrated as the country’s most exciting new exports.
The variety has been in South Africa since the 1650s, but it came to prominence in the first half of the 20th century as a base for South African brandy. The best South African Chenins are produced in low yields from old bush vines and tend to be concentrated and complex with fantastic depth and ageability. As major Chenin advocates, we feel that this is a category in which South Africa can lead the wine world.
‘Chenin is for sure the king of whites and its versatility never seems to fail to amaze us as it produces glorious wines on the 45 degree parallel North in France and glorious wines in the Cape on the 33 degree parallel South in South Africa. It is the true chameleon of white grapes and deserves the respect of the world. Unfortunately unlike some of the obvious monolithic varietals, you do need a brain to drink Chenin!’ Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate