Chenin Blanc is a green grape from France that finds itself doing very well also in South Africa, where it today is the country’s most planted variety.

Characteristics
Chenin Blanc is a highly aromatic grape which naturally comes with aromas of green apple, citrus and minerals. However, depending on vi­ni­fi­ca­tion meth­od, you will find aromas going in oth­er di­rec­tions as well.

There’s an increasing interest in planting Chenin Blanc in countries where wine growing does not have such a long tradition. This popularity could be due to the grape’s naturally high acidity level, making it a versatile grape to work with.

Wines
Chenin Blanc will, depending on how it has been vinified, come in many shapes such as dry, sweet, or sparkling. Dry wines, matured in steel tanks, will be fresh and crisp, with aromas of green apples, citrus and minerals. Some of the best expressions of this can be found in Loire, in the Anjou-Saumur sub region.

Dry wines, matured in oak barrels, will be fresh with aromas of yellow plums, mineral, beeswax, nuts and perhaps some grapefruit.

Some of the best expressions of this kind of wine you will find in Vouvray in Loire’s Touraine sub region.

If you opt for a sparkling Cremant du Loire, you can instead expect notes of green apples, honey, minerals and grape fruit with some residual sweetness. You could also find some nuttiness in there.

The best expressions of this kind of wine can be found in several of Loire’s sub regions. Best places to look are in Anjou-Saumur, or Touraine.

Food pairing
A dry, steel tank fermented varietal pairs excellently with shellfish, shrimps or oysters. Serve at 8-10°C/46-50°F.

A dry, oak matured wine, will be wonderful with a creamy clam chowder or a chicken dish. The wine is best served at 10-12°C/50-54°F.

A sparkling Chenin Blanc will be very nice as an aperitif or to accompany a dessert, even better if it has some lemon flavour to it. Best served well chilled, e.g. 6-8°C/43-44°F.

If it is a wine with low sweetness, it might need to be served at 8-10°C/46-50°F to be fully enjoyed.

Where is it grown?
The image of Chenin Blanc’s development is a divided one. On the one hand, in several countries such as South Africa, France, USA, Argentina and to some extent also in Australia, there’s been a substantial decrease in planted area.

On the other hand there are eleven countries that have established small plantings, in 2010 having doubled the amount of countries where the variety is cultivated.

  • South Africa 18.515 ha/47,752 ac. MPG rank 1
  • France 9.825 ha/24,278 ac. MPG rank 16
  • USA 3.221 ha/7,959 ac. MPG rank 14
  • Argentina 2.462 ha/6,084 ac. MPG rank 15
  • Australia 541 ha/1,337 ac. MPG rank 22

Small plantings are reported from a number of countries (in order of decreasing acreage): Mexico, Israel, Spain, Chile, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Italy, Brazil, Thailand, China, Canada, Uruguay, Switzerland, Hungary, Peru, Myanmar, and Portugal.

History
Chenin Blanc is documented as having been grown in France for well over five-hundred years. Its origin is thought to be in the Loire Valley in western central France, but conclusive evidence that support this still needs to be presented.