Warm weather is upon us, and with it comes the season of white wines. While there are many lovely white wine grapes, none ushers in summer more crisply than Chenin Blanc, a very versatile grape, that is made in many different styles including dry, off-dry, dessert, and even bubbly. Originally from the Loire Valley in France, Chenin Blanc is, also grown in the new world in both South Africa, where it is known as Steen and in California.
Because of the limestone soils in Loire Valley Chenin Blanc from here often has aromas of wet stone, gravel or minerals along with the fruit and floral aromas of the grape. The wine is, also, more acidic, because of the cool climate of the Loire. Whereas, both California and South Africa have slightly warmer temperatures and varied soils. Their Chenin Blancs will be slightly less acidic and more fruit forward.
Jean-Claude Bougrier, Vouvray V retails for around $13. The aromas are pear, lemon and grapefruit with some white flower, beeswax and wet stones. Vouvray is in Central Loire, France and this wine displays the acidity and minerality one would expect from a French Chenin Blanc.
Jean-Claude Bougrier also makes a Vouvray V Reserve that is a bit more lush with aromas of pear, guava and pink grapefruit. And the Loire terroir is still present in the wet stone aromas. This wine retails for about $16.
From Chateau Mossé is Magic of JuJu, a 100% Vin de France wine from Loire Valley that tastes like a crisp apple with some vanilla undertones. It retails for $21.
Cremant Deligeroy Brut from the Loire is a sparkling Chenin Blanc. The flavors are very soft pear, lemon wet stone, chalk, steel and yeast. It retails for $19.
Spier from the Western Cape of South Africa makes a lovely Chenin Blanc with flavors of pear, white peach, and guava. It is a dry wine with a crisp acidity that retails for $10.
Protea comes from the coastal region of South Africa. This 100% Chenin Blanc wine tastes of white peach, lime, and honeysuckle, with a creamy finish. It is off-dry with a medium acidity. It retails for $19.
Bronco Wine Company makes Sea Ridge Chenin Blanc out of California. This California CB has aromas of bitter grapefruit skin, candied pineapple and honeysuckle with some mild oak influence. Off dry with medium acidity, this wine retails for $6.
Dancing Coyote out of Clarksburg, California has aromas of bitter grapefruit, thyme leaves, gunsmoke, wet stone and earth. It is a dry wine with very lively acidity. It retails for $12.
All these wines are available in the Reno area. Because Chenin Blancs are so acidic, they go well with all types of Asian foods including Chinese, Korean, and Indian, as well as flavorful Polynesian food. They also go beautifully with a warm summer evening.