Chenin Blanc is a delicious, light-bodied white wine (also known as Pineau de la Loire, among a few other names), which originated in the famous Loire Valley of France. Produced all over the world in many different styles, Chenin Blanc wine is known for its wide array of flavours and versatility.
The Chenin Blanc grape is small and green and grows well in warm and cool climates, they also have a naturally high acidic content. Chenin Blanc has a unique ability to age for decades and is highly versatile due to the acidity of the wine. It can be used to create different styles of wine such as sparkling wine, dessert wine, and is also used in different white wine blends.
What Is Chenin Blanc?
Chenin Blanc boasts a lightness and crispness that is unique and refreshing. The versatility of this wine is undeniable, it can be anything from a lusciously sweet dessert wine, a light and honeyed sparkling wine, and even an aged, full-bodied, still, white wine.
The Chenin Blanc grapes have a special gift that directly defines its taste and end result. When the grapes are allowed to ripen on the vine, this helps to lessen the sharpness of the acidity of the grape. Something interesting happens here too, they are able to go through a process called botrytization, or “noble rot.”
Noble rot is not unheard of in winemaking and can actually prove to be immensely useful. The rot that is being referred to in the name, is a mould called “botrytis cinerea”. This mould is drawn to moisture and grows on the outside of ripe grape skins. The mould then feeds on the juice and liquid of the grape, which means that whatever is left inside the grape skin becomes much richer, sweeter and more evolved in taste. When the Chenin Blanc grapes have gone through this unique process, it means those grapes will go on to make delicious, sweet, rich wines.
Chenin Blanc wine has its critiques, it’s been called bland, too acidic, cheap and uncultured. Some of the reasons for this is, if the “noble rot” process goes wrong, is poorly managed or if the grapes are picked too early on.
Where Does Chenin Blanc Come From?
The place that Chenin Blanc is most well-known to originate from is France’s Loire Valley. There are official French texts that mention Chenin Blanc in the year 845. This white wine has a lengthy history and a long evolution timeline.
In the new world of wine, Chenin Blanc is now also grown and produced in other countries across the world, such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and California.
How Is Chenin Blanc Made?
There are a few different ways in which Chenin Blanc wine can be made. The process is all dependant on what the desired end taste result is meant to be.
The two most popular styles of fermentation for Chenin Blanc are Oak barrels or stainless steel barrels. Each of these options lends a very specific taste, temperature and aroma to the process of fermentation. Some winemakers use both, they will split the fermentation process between the two types of barrels. Usually, the oak will go first for the bigger portion of the time, then the wine will be moved to a stainless steel barrel for the remainder of the ferment. This is all very specific to the winemaker and the end result he/she is looking for.
What Does Chenin Blanc Taste Like?
Chenin Blanc is known to vary in taste, depending on a variety of factors, most of which we have already looked at above. In a nutshell, these are the main factors that influence the taste:
- The vineyard’s placement
- What type of soil is used
- The location and its weather, harvest time and ferment time
- What the wine is fermented in
- The type and quantity of yeast and other additives added to the wine
- The temperature throughout the entire process
Therefore, the taste of Chenin Blanc is subject to change and could be many different things. On average, a good quality bottle is usually full of floral aromas, with hints of honey and fruits such as apple, guava, quince and pear.
Is Chenin Blanc A Dry Or Sweet Wine?
Chenin Blanc has the ability to be crafted by the winemaker to be any level of dryness or sweetness. It can go from lip-smackingly bone dry, to deliciously sweet.
The dryer the Chenin Blanc, the higher the acidity level. Then there’s off-dry Chenin Blanc, which is slightly sweeter but still maintains its tartness and fruity taste. After the off-dry, there’s sweet Chenin Blanc wine that speaks for itself.
Is Chenin Blanc Buttery?
Chenin Blanc can be buttery if it has spent its entire fermentation process inside an Oak barrel. The flavour from the oak wood of the barrel lends this light white wine a definite buttery texture and flavour.
Does Chenin Blanc Taste Like Chardonnay?
The easy answer is, yes, Chenin Blanc often tastes like Chardonnay. But, to the discerning palate, there is a definite difference in taste and texture. However, the two wines are incredibly similar, with only a few minor differences.
Is Chenin Blanc A Good Wine?
The quality and goodness of Chenin Blanc is often questioned and criticised. It depends on the quality of the harvest, where it comes from and how it is treated from beginning to end. The Chenin Blanc that is created with an old recipe and traditional from the Loire Valley, is undeniably a good wine and industry statistics show how well it performs, but that doesn’t mean that all of it can be painted with the same brush.
How To Drink Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc wine should be properly chilled at 7 to 10 degrees Celsius. It should be left in the fridge for around 1.5 hours, then removed and left to sit for a minute or two in a long stemmed, wide rounded glass. This allows the acidity to disperse evenly in the glass.
What Wine Is Similar To Chenin Blanc?
Chenin Blanc has 3 main wines that share similar properties, tastes and aromas. They are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay.
What Food Does Chenin Blanc Pair With?
Chenin Blanc is one of the best white wines for food paintings. It pairs well with fish, chicken salad, spicy Asian cuisine. Chenin Blanc that has been aged in Oak barrels goes very well with creamy pasta and potato bake. Now that sounds delicious!