Chenin blanc (shen’n BLAHNK) is the freaky Sybil of grapes. It can be sweet or dry and either austere and acidic, or lush and aromatic depending on where it’s grown, how it’s tended and the winemaker’s mood. In France’s Loire Valley, where chenin blanc was first canonized in 985 A.D, it’s camouflaged behind the Vouvray label. There, it tastes luscious, slightly to very sweet, and displays a fruit soup of peach, nectarine and lime – perfect grog for people who shun bone-dry wines. However, finding quality Vouvrays – and rare dry versions from Anjou or Savennières, two other Loire Valley regions – is like wild truffle-hunting: exasperating. (Read more about Chenin Blanc)
But in new world regions like South Africa, this chameleon transforms. They often call Chenin Blanc “Steen” in South Africa This Mulderbosch Chenin was mistaken for a White Burgundy at a recent blind tasting… embarrassing all the certified sommeliers in attendance. It tastes elegant and has soft acidity, smacking of tangerine, lemon curd, toasted oak, orange blossom, a smidge of tropical flavors and stony minerality. Offers a creamy, delicious mouthfeel with an “old world” sophistication. I was astounded to realize it’s $16 price tag.
Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Occasion: Tasted at a blind tasting.
Availability: High end wine shops and big box wine shops.
Food pairing: Would pair well with a wide variety of foods, from roasted herbed chicken to creamy lemon seafood pasta.