Chenin Blanc

  (SHEN-ihn BLAHN)
Synonyms: Chenin Blanc, Pineau, Pineau de la Loire, Steen (South Africa), Pino Blanco (Latin America)

Wine Name: Chenin Blanc , Vouvray (voo-VRAY), Cremant d’ Loire (sparkling)

Background: As a young wine, Chenin Blanc may taste of fruity green apples and lemon seeds and aromas are less prominent than Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc wines. It can sometimes have a vegetal, off dry taste but it is one of the highest acidity grapes so it is usually crisp and clean. Chenin Blanc wines can age well and produce a honeyed, pineapple and exotic fruit taste with medium acid. The Loire Valley region in central France is the classic home of Chenin Blanc, especially in its subregions of Samur, Savennieres (Sa-ven-YAIR), and Vouvray. These areas also excel at producing a semi-dry and a late harvested sweet Chenin Blanc dessert wine and a sparkling wine called Cremant d’ Loire. South Africa now produces a fair amount of Chenin Blanc wine but they tend to make it less acidic and with more tropical fruit flavors than the Loire Valley wines.

Classic Brands and Sources: There are many Loire Valley producers of both dry and off dry Chenin Blancs; USA – Chalone, Chappellet, Dry Creek; South Africa – Kanu, Mulderbosch; New Zealand – Milton

Characteristics:

Style #1 – cool climate (Vouvray)

Body – light to medium (-)

Acidity – high

Sweetness – dry to off dry

Tannins – low

Style #2 – warm climate

Body – medium

Acidity – medium (+)

Sweetness – dry, fruity

Tannins – low

Style #3 – demi-sec

Body – medium (+) to full

Acidity – perceived as low

Sweetness – sweet

Tannins – low


Wine and food pairing guidelines:

Cool climate and warm climate with acidic light to medium bodied dishes; Off dry with Pacific Rim cuisines, spicy food and desserts

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Cool and warm climate Chenin Blanc goes with fish, shellfish, chicken, pork and veal with citric and other acidic sauces; salads, sushi; Off dry goes with Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, foie gras, apples and apple-based desserts

Cheese Pairings:
Boursin herbed (cool climate), Brick, Derby, Feta (sheep’s milk), goat cheese, Gouda, Havarti, Majorero (Spanish hard goat cheese) Mahon, Bucheron (French goat cheese), dry Jack cheese, Cream (warm weather), Neufchatel , Saint-Felicien (French cow;s milk cheese), Raclette, Pave Affinois