Chenin Blanc White Wine Variety

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Chenin blanc is a highly revered white variety from the central regions of the Loire Valley where it is used to make sweet, semi-sweet and dry white wines and also sparkling wine. It is less highly regarded in Australia.

Jancis Robinson Chennin quote

Honey, mineral, bees wax, wet wool...

These are some of the descriptors used in the Wine Grape Varietal Table to describe this variety.

It is grown extensively in Western Australia where it has formed the basis of the popular Houghton's White Burgundy. Along with Semillon and Sauvignon blanc, and sometimes Chardonnay, Chenin blanc has been a component of the WA Classic Dry White style.

The famous Loire Valley wines of Vouvray are made from Chenin blanc. The variety is also used for making wines under the appellations of Montlois, Savennieres and Saumur, to name just a few.

De long's wine grape varietal table
Chenin blanc is over cropped and undervalued almost everywhere else in the world, but some attention is at last being paid to its potential to produce quality wine when given due respect. For many years the variety was the mainstay of the South African wine industry. This is largely due to the ability to produce large crops in warm conditions. The variety has its own organisation, the South African based Chenin Blanc Association

Most Australian plantings are in Western Australia, but Chenin is present in most Australian regions. It is probable that the WA propensity for using the variety is a result of importation of vines from South Africa in the 19th Century. Around Perth the variety has historically played a role similar to that it plays in South Africa, producing wines of no great character. The variety is reasonably popular in Margaret River where growers and winemakers have more of an eye for quality.

Elsewhere in Australia the variety plays a minor role in a number of regions, but it is fair to say the Australia has yet to produce a great Chenin blanc. The possible exception being a one-off late harvest wine produced by St Leonards in the late 1970s. I recently tried a dry Chenin from the same maker and found it excellent.

Producers of Chenin Blanc Wine in Australia

Most producers are in WA, for historical reasons. Chenin is most often used in Australia as a component of blends, the so called "Classic Dry Whites" of WA used to contain Chenin.

All Saints Estate Rutherglen |
This page recently updated to include new wineries listed in
James Halliday's Wine Companion 2014
Amberley Estate Margaret River | Ambrook Wines Swan Valley | Anderson Winery Rutherglen | Aravina Margaret River | Bacchus Hill Sunbury | Ballandeen Estate Granite Belt | Bella Ridge Estate Swan District | Berton Vineyards Riverina | Blackboy Ridge Estate Geographe | Blackwood Wines Blackwood Valley | Blue Manna Margaret River | Bremerton Langhorne Creek | Broken River Vineyards Goulburn Valley | Brookwood Estate Margaret River | Brown Brothers King Valley | Bullers Beverford Swan Hill | Canungra Valley Queensland Coastal | Cape Bouvard Peel | Cape Grace Wines Margaret River | Capel Vale Geographe | Carabooda Estate Swan District | Carilley Estate Swan Valley | Carlaminda Estate Geographe | Carosa Perth Hills | Casley Mount Hutton Winery Granite Belt | Chapman's Creek Vineyard Margaret River | Chapman Valley Wines Central Western Australian Zone | Charlies Estate Wines Swan Valley | Cheriton Swan District | Chidlows Well Central Western Australian Zone | Chittering Valley Winery Perth Hills | Churchview Estate Margaret River | Cofield Wines Rutherglen | Concotton Creek Peel | Coriole McLaren Vale | Cushendell Southern Highlands | Darling Estate King Valley | Darlington Estate Perth Hills | Devil's Lair Margaret River | Donnelly River Wine Pemberton | Dowie Doole McLaren Vale | Drinkmoor Wines Rutherglen | Edgecombe Brothers Swan Valley | Evans and Tate Margaret River | Fermoy Estate Margaret River | Fish Tail Wines Swan Valley | Flinders Bay Margaret River | Flying Fish Cove Margaret River | Fox River Wines Mount Barker | Garbin Estate Swan Valley | Gehrig Estate Rutherglen | Goundrey Mount Barker | Green Valley Vineyard Margaret River | Gwynnyth Vineyards Pyrenees | Halina Brook Central Western Australian Zone | Happs Margaret River | Harris Organic Wines Swan Valley | Heafod Glen Winery Swan Valley | Hotham Ridge Winery Peel | Houghton Swan Valley | Idylwild Wines Geographe | Jane Brook Estate Swan Valley | Jarrah Ridge Winery Perth Hills | Jauma McLaren Vale | John Gehrig Wines King Valley | John Kosovich Wines Swan Valley | Juniper Estate Margaret River | Jylland Vineyard Central Western Australian Zone | Kalleske Wines Barossa Valley | Kneedeep Margaret River | Kominos Wines Granite Belt | Kotai Estate Geographe | Kyotmunga Estate Perth Hills | Lamonts Central Western Australian Zone | Lancaster Wines Swan Valley | Lilac Hill Estate Swan Valley | Little River Wines Swan Valley | Longview Creek Sunbury | Marri Wood Park Margaret River | Matilda's Estate Denmark | Middlebrook Estate McLaren Vale | Moondah Brook Swan Valley | Murray Estate Big Rivers Zone | Myalup Wines Geographe | Oakover Estate Swan Valley | Olive Farm Swan District | Paul Conti Wines Greater Perth Zone | Peel Estate Peel | Peter Lehmann Barossa Valley | Pikes Clare Valley | Pinelli Swan Valley | Plantagenet Mount Barker | Pollocksford Vineyards Geelong | Redgate Margaret River | Riseborough Estate Swan District | Riverbank Estate Swan Valley | Riverina Estate Wines Riverina | Romavilla Roma | Rusden Wines Barossa Valley | Sandalford Wines Swan Valley | Scarpantoni Estate McLaren Vale | Settlers Ridge Margaret River | Sevenhill Wines Clare Valley | Sittella Swan Valley | St Leonards Rutherglen | Stakehill Estate Peel | Susannah Brook Wines Swan District | Swan Valley Wines Swan Valley | Swanbrook Estate Wines Swan Valley | Swings & Roundabouts Margaret River | Swooping Magpie Margaret River | Talijancich Swan Valley | Tassell Park Wines Margaret River | Tatachilla McLaren Vale | Temple Bruer Langhorne Creek | The Lily Stirling Range Porongurup | The Natural Wine Company Swan Valley | The Wanderer Yarra Valley | Trappers Gully Mount Barker | Tuart Ridge Peel | Upper Reach Vineyard Swan Valley | Valley Wines Swan District | Velavere Hunter Valley | Vineyard 28 Geographe | Vino Italia Swan Valley | Voyager Estate Margaret River | Wanderer Wines Yarra Valley | Wandering Brook Estate Peel | Warraroong Estate Hunter Valley | Western Range Wines Perth Hills | Westfield Swan Valley | Willoughby Park Denmark | Willow Bridge Estate Geographe | Windance Wines Margaret River | Windows Estate Margaret River | Windy Creek Estate Swan Valley | Woody Nook Margaret River | Wordsworth Wines Geographe | Yarran Riverina

Chenin Blanc and Food

As there are many styles of wine made from this variety general recommendations are a little hard to make.

Sparkling Chenin or cremant is a fraction of the price of Champagne but it serves equally well for food pairing. Use it with oysters as an appetizer or right through the meal to fruit based desserts.

Dry Chenin blanc can be used wherever you would other light dry wines, anything that you might squeeze a lemon over you can serve with a dry Chenin.

Off dry Chenins come into their own with slightly spicy dishes such as coconut based curries from India, Thailand and Malaysia.

Sweet botrytised styles belong at the start or the finish of the meal. If you are serving a terrine or foie gras for starters, a sweet wine is great. Creamy deserts or soft cheeses also call for a sweet white wine and a dessert style chenin could fit the bill.

You can find more ideas in the book Daring Pairings

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