Chenin Blanc is comparable to Riesling in that it is an extremely food friendly wine. Similar to Riesling it comes in bone dry, off dry, sparkling, and sweet styles.
With a mouth-zingy acidity, and lots of mineral flavours, when made right you have the perfect palate cleansing wine. Typical flavours of Chenin Blanc are melon, pear, stewed apricots, citrus, nectarine, green apple and marzipan.
The dry and off dry wines are a great wine to pair with curried dishes, such as a curried chicken salad. The flavours of this wine take away the curries heat, bringing out the flavours of the dish. This wine will also calm the fury of a spicy Kung Pao chicken dish.
The acidity in this wine will pair up nicely with tomato sauces and cut through dense cream sauces. The acidity is also perfect for rich dishes, such as roasted duck in a fruit sauce, or any protein based dish in a white sauce.
Best White Wine with Ham
Personally, I love an off-dry Chenin Blanc with a Honey Glazed Ham. The slight sweetness of the wine complements the salty sweet nature of the ham. Meanwhile the acidity tears through protein, making each bite taste fresh.
California and South Africa are both producing some outstanding Chenin Blanc. The Dutch were fascinated with this grape, and had it planted throughout South Africa during the age of exploration. However if you are a purist, you’ll have to look towards the Vouvray region of the Loire Valley in France where the Chenin Blanc is the dominant grape in the white wines they produce.
Deciphering the Label
Vouvray in France uses different terms to describe their Chenin Blanc
Methode Traditionelle – Is a sparkling white wine.
Sec – This refers to a Lean and Dry Vouvray which are lean, minerally, tart, and sometimes a little bit smokey.
Tendre – is an off-dry Chenin Blanc and perhaps the most popular style of this grape. Expect a lush white wine with aromas of fresh pairs and flowers.
Moelleux – is a sweet dessert wine style anshould generally be treated as you would a Sauternes when pairing with food. Great pairs would be peach cobbler, apricot tart, apple desserts, or foie gras.
Vouvray doesn’t have a monopoly on the Chenin Blanc, and there are other regions of France worth exploring
Anjou and Côteaux du Layon
Anjou is known for exceptional sparkling Chenin Blanc, with the most popular being Anjou Mousseaux and Crémant de la Loire
Côteaux du Layon, meanwhile, focuses on amazingly sweet Chenin Blanc made with noble rot. These wines are world famous, with Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux being the most expensive.
The Montlouis region produces wines in a very similar style to Vouvray, and is a great equal alternative if you are seeking a quality Chenin Blanc.
A Chenin Blanc produced in a style very unlike Vouvray as it uses oxidative winemaking. This process deepens the colour and adds a nutty ripe apple flavour to the wine. While not a popular style, it has quite the cult following amongst fans as the area produces consistent and quality wines year after year.