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The Versatility of Chenin Blanc

All too often we end up using a shelf slot or wine list entry of “Other Whites” as a catch all for one of the world’s most versatile wine grapes – Chenin Blanc.  This charming grape may be the ultimate example of all the wonky wine jargon we often love to use when having serious discussions about wine, yet Chenin Blanc rarely gets the respect it deserves.

Think of the variety of characteristics possible in Chenin Blanc.  Few other grapes have the broad depth and variety of wines available in its repertoire.  From the bright acid driven sparklings at one end of the Loire Valley to the often blockbuster botrytis laced wines just up the river, Chenin Blanc shines.  The warmer fermentation practices of the Old World, which place emphasis on brightness and minerality differ greatly from the New World tendency to ferment at lower temperatures that bring out more tropical notes.  As with all other grape varieties, finding well made versions of each of these styles takes some time and attention.

Pairing Chenin with food might be where it shines the brightest.  The more off-dry versions will always succeed with the spicier cuisines of southern Asia, where the drier acid driven wines pair extremely well with richer cream based sauces and rich first courses, like pate.  A well aged botrytis-laced Chenin Blanc can often raise dessert to an art form or become dessert all on its own.

Take the time and effort to experiment with the diversity of great Chenin Blanc and you and your customers will benefit.