Chenin Blanc is a white wine grape variety, originally from Vouvray in France’s Loire Valley. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from dry, light refreshing white wine, to sparkling wines or well-balanced dessert wine. It also offers oak-aged styles with similar flavors to Chardonnay.
As a white wine, Chenin Blanc has a wide range of flavours. Part of the reason for this has a lot to do with the winemaking style.
Dry: The grapes are fermented dry and kept fresh, they produce a very lean, minerally style Chenin Blanc that offers up flavors of tart pear, quince, ginger, and chamomile.
Off-Dry: During winemaking some of the grapes’ natural sugars are left in the wine, you’ll taste richer flavors of ripe pear, ginger, jasmine, passion fruit, and honeycomb.
Sweet: Sweeter styles of Chenin Blanc have flavors of dried persimmon, toasted almond, mango, ginger, and mandarin orange.
Sparkling: Sparkling styles can range from dry (Brut) to sweet (Demi-Sec), with Chenin Blanc’s classic characteristics of quince, yellow apple, plum, ginger, and floral notes.
Chenin Blanc is widely planted in South Africa these days and due to New Zealand’s cool to moderate climate, Chenin Blanc can thrive, and it's slowly but surely building up an impressive reputation. Some examples of New Zealand wineries who are consistently producing great Chenin Blanc's include Forrest Estate in Marlborough, Decibel Wines and Esk Valley in Hawkes Bay.