Today, Saturday 20 June, is Drink Chenin Day 2020. A day to celebrate, and especially to drink, Chenin. We tell you about Chenin and let you know which Chenins are recommended by wine importers in Australia. Cheers!
What is Chenin?
Chenin, also known as Chenin Blanc, is a white wine grape variety. The results of molecular and genetic analyses show that Chenin is a descendant from Savagnin.
It produces white wines in Touraine and in Anjou. The wines can be dry (Jasnières, Savennières, Vouvray, Montlouis, Anjou, Saumur, etc.) or sweet perhaps liquorous in certain vintages or according to the sorting of the winery (Bonnezeaux, Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux de l’Aubance, Jasnières, Quarts de Chaume, Savennières, Vouvray, Montlouis…). It is also used in the production of sparkling wines (Crémant de Loire, Crémant de Limoux, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Saumur, Vouvray).
Chenin, or chenin blanc, is the only grape authorised for the production of Vouvray, Montlouis, Chaume, Jasnières, Savennières, Bonnezeaux, Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux-de-l’aubance and Quarts de Chaume.
Where does Chenin come from?
In France, Chenin is found in its region of origin, the Loire Valley, of which is it one of the most characteristic varietals. It is planted in this region, from the Western limits of the Maine-et-Loire département to Touraine, and covers a number of appellations. It is also called the pineau blanc de la Loire (see all its other names in the pictogram above) in Touraine.
It is also found in the South West and in Languedoc where is is classed as a « cépage recommandé » (recommended varietal). It is part of the mix of many AOCs in the Limoux appellation: in the La blanquette de Limoux it makes up to 10 % and in the crémant de Limoux up to 40 %.
Now, chenin is well represented in the new world wine countries of Argentina, Chile, California, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. For example, in South Africa, with 30% of the vineyards, it is one of the most grown varietals, under the name steen. Today, the surface area of chenin grown in South Africa is double that of the Loire Valley.
What Chenin should we drink for DRINK CHENIN DAY 2020?
French wine importers in Australia speak to us about their favourite Chenins for Drink Chenin Day 2020.
The Pichot family have a history in Vouvray going back to the early 18th century, and as vignerons back to 1770. They own some of the best vineyard sites in the appellation, and are in the top bracket of producers but fly very much under the radar. This vineyard (‘The Hills of the Deer’) is on Vouvray’s prized Vallee de Nouys, part of the plateau rising just above the village.
2018 was a fabulous vintage for the Loire, and this wine shows all the trademarks of beautifully ripe, dry Chenin.
Apple, honey, quince, and the slightly savoury/woolly aspect of the variety. It drinks well now, but under Screw-cap will age for 50 years if you wish.
Nathalie Taquet from Bottli says:
I am particularly fond of the Crémant de Loire Brut from Château Langlois, in the Loire Valley, an emblematic region of the French Chenin Blanc. The Château de Langlois is based in Saumur and the Maison Bollinger has acquired the majority of the shares since the 1970s.
The Crémant de Loire Appellation is among the most demanding as far as quality control goes for sparkling wine appellations in France. This makes it an excellent sparkling wine to be enjoyed without moderation!
This pale-yellow sparkling wine with notes of white flowers and yellow fruits, such as peach or quince, brings a refreshing and vibrant mouth-feel.
I like to taste this Crémant de Loire with an apple pie. The lemony flavors of Chenin Blanc go perfectly with the flavors of apple. Very fresh and elegant finish, and a rich sensation in the mouth.
As part of our Concierge Service, we provide a Sommelier on Demand to organize private events. The ideal time to make a comparison of French Chenin Blanc and Australian Chenin Blanc grape varieties, highlighting wines from the Loire Valley and Margaret River in Western Australia.
Alexandre Rougeot from Clos Cachet:
At the moment, I’m liking Chenins from the Loire Valley region, in particular those from Saumur, but also from Anjou. They are generous in ripe fruit, but with the accuracy and the freshness that make them unique. It is, quite simply, together with chardonnay, my favourite white varietal.
Chenin doesn’t accept mediocrity unlike Riesling and Chardonnay. You therefore need to look for great Chenins and pay the price and the experience is magical. I strongly recommend you taste the Chenin du Clau de Nell from Anjou as well as the Saumur Blanc from the Domaine Le Petit Saint Vincent.
These two wines are made from grapes grown organically, from small yields on beautiful grounds. Their complexity is impressive.
Other places to buy chenin for DRINK CHENIN DAY 2020
Good Pair Days
Living Wines has a great range of chenins from a number of winemakers.
For Drink Chenin Day 2020, drink a glass of Chenin and take a photo. Upload it to social media with the #DrinkChenin.
What’s your favourite wine from the Chenin grape?
Like wine? You might also like to read our article about French wine importers in Australia.