The Chenin

 

A very picky, but also very loyal variety.

The "Chenin Blanc", also called "Pineau de la Loire", is not immediately one of the best known, nor one of the most widespread grape varieties. Except a few exceptions, we do find it practicly only in the Loire Valley, where it has its roots. And, in contrast to other, all over the world, well known grapes, it is only in this region that it produces realy great wines. Of course you may also find some very fine specimen in South Africa and New Zeeland, but nevertheless it is alongside the Loire river that it achieves its most exciting expression. It loves the mild climate, the sunny summers with cool nights, in short : the "douceur angevine".

A "terroir for a grape" and a "grape for a terroir" !

The chenin is also pre-eminently a terroir variety. You will not find a lot of chenin originated "variety wines", then it does not have that kind of primary floral and fruity aroma which made chardonnay and sauvignon so popular all over the world. No, the genius of the chenin lays in its enormous capacity to assimilate in its wines the minerality and character of its birth ground. On this matter, it only has one real competitor : the riesling. And, remarkably enough, is this also a grape variaty which, likewise the chenin, produces some of the greatest noblesweet wines in the world. Some ampelographs suggest that they might even be distant cousins of each other.

Best friend of "botrytis cinerea".

The chenin is in fact a cameleon. According to the circumstances and the "terroir" it may sign for fine crispy sparkling wines, very mineral dry ones or extremely complex noblesweets. Its excellent relationship with "botrytis cinerea" is of decisive importance. All grapes are susceptible for "botrytis", but a lot less are also capable of developping noblerot. Only a few ones, and only in specific areas, are apt to do so, and one of the most prominent among these is the chenin in the Loire Valley.

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