One of the most versatile and well-loved white varieties, here is a grape that can turn its hand to a plethora of wine styles, from dry through to off-dry, lusciously sweet and even sparkling. Characterised by its refreshing acidity, with a flavour profile that can range from citrus and green apple, smoky and herbaceous notes, through to rich stone fruit and tropical character. Chenin Blanc is used to produce both oaked and unoaked wines, single variety whites as well as beautifully complex white blends.
France, South Africa and New Zealand show a particular affinity for this wonderful white grape variety. Look no further than the superb examples produced in the French region of the Loire, namely the wines of Vouvray, Saumur and Savennières. The variety’s affinity for noble rot or ‘botrytis’ makes it well-suited to the production of gloriously sweet styles too, such as the celebrated ageworthy Coteaux du Layon, with pronounced honey character balanced by fresh acidity.
In South Africa meanwhile, where Chenin Blanc is the most planted grape variety, key wineries including AA Badenhorst, Mullineux, Keermont and Raats Family Wines are producing marvellously textured Chenins with wonderful depth of flavour. In New Zealand, the renowned producer Mount Difficulty is using Chenin Blanc to make beautiful off-dry styles, whilst Millton Vineyards produces a richly tropical and zesty example using fully biodynamic and organic practices.