Chenin Blanc

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What is Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc, also known as Pineau de la Loire, is a white wine grape variety that is widely known for its adaptability. Its growing popularity has led the so-called New World producers from locations such as South Africa and California to grow the versatile grape.

The high acidity from Chenin Blanc can be used to make sparkling wines or dessert wines, although it can produce neutral wines if the vines' natural vigour is uncontrolled. When compared to Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc is sweeter and more expensive because it's less common and not widely grown.

What is Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc, also known as Pineau de la Loire, is a white wine grape variety that is widely known for its adaptability. Its growing popularity has led the so-called New World producers from locations such as South Africa and California to grow the versatile grape.

The high acidity from Chenin Blanc can be used to make sparkling wines or dessert wines, although it can produce neutral wines if the vines' natural vigour is uncontrolled. When compared to Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc is sweeter and more expensive because it's less common and not widely grown.

History of Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc Wines are most famously produced in France and South Africa. It is theorized that Chenin Blanc originated from the Anjou wine region in the 9th Century and travelled to Touraine in the 15th Century.

From France, the white grape has travelled to South Africa, where it was commonly known by its Afrikaans name Steen. South Africa is now the largest producer of Chenin Blanc covering over 50% of vineyards worldwide.

Today, Chenin Blanc is planted around the world in other wine regions including China, New Zealand, Canada and Argentina. Chenin plantings in Australia can be found in Tasmania and South Australia among others, as well as Swan Valley and Margaret Rivers in Western Australia.

In France's Loire Valley, Chenin Blanc is prized as a premium quality wine grape that's able to produce world-class wines.

It is used to produce a variety of wine styles including dry whites such as Savennières and Vouvray, sweet wines such as Coteaux du Layon and Quarts de Chaume or sparkling wine such as the appellation Crémant de Loire. However, in New World regions, it is used as a "workhorse variety".

While the white wine grape variety started in France, by the 21st Century, twice as much Chenin Blanc was planted in South Africa as in France.

Taste Profile

Chenin Blanc produces a wide range of flavours depending on the style and terroir from sparkling, oaked full-bodied delights, to crisp dry white, and even sweet wines.

Chenin Blanc has distinctive apple or apple skin fragrance notes. Depending on when the grapes are picked or if they underwent a Noble Rot, you can also expect a ripe pineapple, orange peel, honey or dried chamomile aroma.

The taste of Chenin Blanc delivers zingy acidity, no matter the wine style. It's likened to the acidity of a Riesling but with the body and texture of Chardonnay. Chenin Blanch can be dry to sweet and can range from light-bodied to creamy.

When dry, Chenin Blanc can be very lean and mineral, offering flavours of tart pear, quince, ginger or chamomile. When off-dry (demi-sec), you can taste richer flavours of ripe pear, ginger, jasmine or passion fruit.

Sweet styles of Chenin Blanc have dried persimmon, toasted almond, mango or mandarin orange flavours while sparkling styles can range from dry to sweet with classic flavours of yellow apple, plum, or ginger.

South Africa Chenin Blanc offers a diverse range of styles. In cooler coastal regions such as Elgin and Walker Bay, their Chenin Blanc vineyard offers green apple, pear and citrus flavours which are crisp and refreshing.

Food Pairings

Due to Chenin Blanc's acidity and sweet flavours, it pairs well with food that is sweet or sour. It can also go well with cream-based dishes or rich seafood such as white crabmeat or lobster. Chenin Blanc can also go well with classics such as sweet and sour dishes and Southeast Asian cuisine.

Dry and acidic Chenin Blanc can be paired with fatty, friend or rich dishes as the acidity can enhance the flavour. You can also try it with quiche and other cream-based dishes.

A full-bodied Chenin Blanc, on the other hand, can be acidic and will match well with meat dishes such as steak, which will cut through the fat and cleanse your palate.

A fruity and sweet Chenin Blanc will pair well with spicy yet not-too-hot dishes, salads, exotic cheeses and light desserts.

South African white wines can moist out dry food pairings, which you can also try.


How is Chenin Blanc best served?

Chenin Blach is best served chilled, preferably between 45–55°F / 7-12°C. You can place the bottle in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours before serving, or in an ice-water bath.

South Africa has almost a 400-year-long history in winemaking and wines produced from there boast the region's indigenous and unique, exotic and tropical flavours. If you want to try out South African Chenin Blanc and other white wines, Message In A Bottle has a wide selection you can choose from and try.