Chenin Blanc: The Versatile White Wine Choice

The shape-shifting grape delivers a plethora of quaffable wine styles

If you’re looking for a white wine to suit every mood this spring, look to chenin blanc. The shape-shifting grape is just as quaffable bone-dry as it is sparkling or sweet, thanks to its racy acidity and heavenly aromatics.

Chenin blanc thrives worldwide. From its native Loire Valley in western France, we like the food-friendly Sauvion Val de Loire Vouvray 2010 ($10) for its aromas of apricots, tart apple flavors, and minerally mid-palate.

If you favor chenin’s sweet side, indulge in Domaine Bourillon Dorleans' Vouvray Demi-Sec 2010 ($19), with its unctuous marzipan aromas and flavors and its creamy finish.

You can also find fine examples of chenin blanc in California, and particularly, the Clarksburg viticultural area, where winemakers deliver unoaked delights, like Picnic Wine Company's “Blue Plate” Chenin Blanc 2010, a lively $10 wine that is pale straw in color with dreamy white peach aromas and a bright, savory finish.

If you like that, you will love Dry Creek Vineyards’ Dry Chenin Blanc. The Healdsburg winery has been producing lively, affordable chenin blanc since its founding in 1972, and, at $12, the 2011 vintage, with its pineapple aromas, bright citrus notes, and refreshing minerally finish, is a yummy example. However, the region where chenin blanc is most widely planted is South Africa’s Stellenbosch. The region delivers beauties, like the Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010, which is sourced from organically grown grapes and has a full and vibrant mouthfeel with aromas of creamy citrus and flavors of pears and peaches. The acidity makes it ideal for all your picnic salads this spring.

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