It’s International Chenin Blanc Day! This hard-not-to-love grape variety takes the cake when it comes to versatility. Founded in the Loire Valley, Chenin Blanc quickly became a staple in not only France, but in many New World regions. You can catch Chenin Blanc readily grown in South Africa, United States, and Canada. Keep reading to get to know your new favourite summertime white!
Chenin Blanc Comes in all Shapes and Styles
Dry or sweet? Still or sparking? Oaked or unoaked?
Dry: Dry Chenin Blanc comes in full-bodied oaked styles, and medium-body unoaked styles. From passion fruit and peaches, to tart apples and minerality, your glass will be full of flavours and balanced acidity.
Off Dry: Chenin Blanc becomes off dry when it’s harvested late in the season. You’ll experience a touch of sweetness on your palate, with high acid, and aromas of honeycomb and ripe pear.
Sweet: This is next level Chenin Blanc. After all, you can’t go wrong with a high acid, tropical delight!
Sparkling: If you like it light, bright, and bubbly we've found your match. Depending on the level of ripeness, this grape can make a brut or demi-sec sparkling wine. The classic traditional method (Cap Classique in South Africa) showcases flavours of apple, pear, toasted almonds, and yeastiness; you’ll surely want to grab a bottle to kick-off the summer season!
Unique Regions and Famous Producers
From cool and moderate to warm and continental climates, this grape is more adaptable than your average power bar!
Loire Valley, France: A 600-mile stretch of straight perfection! This cool climate region is where you’ll find everything from dry green and citrus flavours, to off-dry, sweet, and sparkling expressions of apricot and pear.
My go-to? Lvd Vouvray Grand Vaudasniere Sparkling
South Africa: Welcome the star of the show. Being the largest producer of Chenin Blanc (also known as Steen), quality isn’t a question for this nation. Its warm climate reveals ripe flavours of stone fruit, tropical fruit and are often oaked.
My go-to? Bellingham Chenin Blanc
Sonoma, California: While it might not be the most recognized region for Chenin Blanc production, it’s certainly worth knowing! Considered a jug wine throughout the 19th century, it’s evolved into a Loire Valley inspired style, producing excellent dry, off dry, and sparkling wines.
My go-to? Dry Creek Sonoma Valley Chenin Blanc
Okanagan Valley, Canada: I may be biased, but this might be my favourite region for Chenin Blanc! With Canada’s cool climate and optimal soil conditions, it will be sure to impress at your next backyard dinner party.
My go-to? Quails' Gate Chenin Blanc
Say Hello to Perfect Pairings
Dry and Oaked: Seafood with a cream sauce.
Dry and Unoaked: Sushi and fresh summer salads.
Off Dry and Sweet: Fois gras, duck, blue cheese, and desserts.
Dry Sparkling: Fried, rich, fatty foods or the classic seafood dishes such as oysters and bacon wrapped scallops.
Sweet Sparkling: Spicy dishes and desserts.