Today marks Drink Chenin Day 2021, so…you know what to do!
While you’re doing that, here are some fun facts about a grape that seemed to all but disappear a few years back, yet thankfully is seeing a bit of revitalized interest of late:
- Chenin is a very versatile grape; utilized for dry to fully sweet wines, still or sparkling, and range in color from pale straw to pale amber
- When oak aged, it can be an excellent alternative to Chardonnay
- While originating in France, with notable plantings existing in the US, over 50% of global Chenin Blanc vineyards are actually found in South Africa today
- Even though South Africa holds the most plantings, the Loire Valley in France still produces the most-esteemed versions of this wine – which also happens to be this grape’s ancestral home, originating around 800 AD
- Before the California Chardonnay boom of the 70s, Chenin Blanc was the most widely planted white grape in the state
- Although still debated, some DNA testing has led many believe Chenin Blanc is actually a sibling grape of Sauvignon Blanc, both owing further parentage to the Savagnin grape
- Due to higher acidity levels, Chenin Blanc is an excellent food wine – just know what’s in the bottle first though, as it can have a wide range of flavor profiles due to variations in growing regions and seasonal shifts
- Chenin is finicky. Too high a yield, you’ll just have bland wine, pick when it’s still a bit underripe, expect bad results. This nature has attributed to the losses of Chein growths globally, however, other finicky grapes have seen renewed interest and massive plantings in the last few decades (looking at you Pinot Noir) so it’s not to say Chenin will not become fashionable or in demand again leading to increased growths
- For the best expressions of Chenin, look to Vouvry, Anjou, and Savennières. Cremant de Loire is another great expression, however sparkling. All of these come from the Loire Valley area of France and should be very easy to find in a reputable wine shop or online
- While Chenin has a widely varying flavor and aromatic profile, one of the more odd descriptors that actually defines and gives away this grape in blind tastings is Greengage – a highly valued dessert green plum originating in Iran
Happy Drink Chenin Day!