It was a holiday through the Loire Valley and a cheeky ‘work’ trip to South Africa that did it. I was hooked. No, it wasn’t just the picture perfect villages around the river Loire and the majestic mountains of the Cape. It was Chenin Blanc. Why? As a grape variety, it has several guises and is probably the world’s most versatile grape variety. I love the fact that it can be so very different and can surprise me every time!
Chenin Blanc in its native region is often called Pineau / Pineau de la Loire or Steen in South Africa. It grows well in the cool climatic area of the Loire due to its natural high acidity, especially in the less ripe vintages.South Africa now has more than three times as much Chenin planted as France because of its resistance to disease and wind. Its productivity is also excellent with higher yields.
It is capable of producing some of the finest, longest living sweet wines, off-dry wines with refreshing acidity, floral aromas and lovely peach and subtle honey flavours like the La Grille Chenin Blanc or Robertson Chenin Blanc. There are wines that are steely and dry with hints of apples and pears like the Jasnieres and medium sweet wines such as Vouvray Demi Sec Domaine Bourillon- Dorleans (although Vouvray can also be dry and sweet). Continuing on with its’ versatility, we have the Bellingham ‘The Bernard Series’ Old Vine Chenin Blanc which has a huge amount of complexity from 12 months’ fermentation in French oak and concentration of flavour from old vines!
Lastly, many of our customers may have visited the town of Saumur in the Loire, well known for it’s Saumur Mousseux, a well priced sparkling wine made from- yes you guessed it- Chenin Blanc! We have the Bouvet Ladubay NV which has fresh citrussy flavours and a creamy mousse.
I urge you to take a break from the norm and try some Chenin Blancs from our range. There are quite a few to choose from!