After three interesting, and very different sauvignon blancs, it is time for us to explore the next grape on our list. VV4 brings us to one of the world’s most versatile grapes, Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc is used to produce everything from bone dry, high acid wines to deliciously sweet dessert wines. It can be found in sparkling “champagne style” wines, such as Crémant de Loire, and even fortified wines.
Widely thought to have originated in France, Chenin Blanc can can be found growing in vineyards around the globe. However, only a few wine regions in the world see chenin blanc as primary varietal, these are France, South Africa, and the United States. For this week’s journey we explore South Africa’s Stellenbosch region.
The town of Stellenbosch, 30 miles east of Cape Town, was founded in 1679. It is the center of viticulture in South Africa, and rightly so. The hot summers, and cold, damp winters, combined with the varied soils (light and sandy to decomposing granite) make this region well suited to growing a wide variety of wine grapes, including chenin blanc.
The 2008 “Petit” Chenin Blanc from the Ken Forrester Vineyards is a good example of what South Africa has to offer. The light straw color reveals delicate aromas of citrus and pear with a dash of minerals. Off-dry (slightly sweet) flavors of lime, green pears, and green grapes (Thompson?) are very refreshing and bright. The light acidity and lingers in your mouth for a juicy finish. Not as rich or complex as a 2007 or 2008 Forrester Meinert Chenin Blanc (FMC), but a great everyday wine nonetheless. Save this one for your next spring picnic!
2008 Ken Forrester “Petit” Chenin Blanc ($13)
100% Chenin Blanc
Stellenbosch, South Africa