Chenin Blanc Wine
There’s so much to like about chenin blanc. No matter your taste, the array of shapes this white can take mean you’ll find a type to suit. From crisp and dry to richer, fuller-bodied styles, sparkling to sweet, chenin is an under-recognised all-rounder.sauvignon to a chardonnay.
Chenin blanc’s taste will be largely determined by how it’s treated in the winery and its destined style, with the potential for a wide range of flavours. Generally, a dry chenin blanc with limited winemaking inputs will be a light, fresh, perfect-for-summer wine, with crunchy fruit, delicate aromatics and subtle spice, while an oak-aged chenin blanc can look similar to chardonnay.
Off-dry styles bring richer flavours to the fore, making for a wine that is juicier, spicier and more floral, with a slight honeyed note. Sweet styles up the ante still – full-flavoured and complex, silky in texture and with rich, toasty, nutty characters. Chenin blanc also comes in sparkling styles spanning everything from extra dry to sweet.Loire Valley in France, where it turns up in all manner of wines – from delicious Cremant de Loire sparklings to food-friendly Vouvray whites and world-famous dessert wines. It is reportedly named for a town in the Loire called “Mont Chenin”, and thought to be an offspring of savagnin, a variety from eastern France’s Jura region. The first records of chenin blanc date back to the 1500s, but it is believed to have originated many centuries earlier.
The modern history of chenin blanc begins in the 17th century, when it travelled from France to South Africa. Today, the Cape claim’s the bulk of the world’s plantings, and chenin blanc is South Africa’s signature white wine.
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Other WA regions also produce the variety and it has a history in South Australia in places like the Barossa and McLaren Vale. Look closely, though, and you will find it dotted all around the country, with various producers won over by its charms.