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Chenin Blanc

SA's greatest grape - and why we should drink more of it.

by: Cathy Marston | 05 Nov 2009
Chenin grapes in the morning dew

Origins and history:- Originates in France in the Loire Valley and makes some of the most varied and long-lived wines in the world. Actually, South Africa has approximately three times as much Chenin as France, many of these vines very old and well-established. Also known here as ‘Steen’, Chenin is undergoing a serious image makeover from its reputation as producing cheap and cheerful unwooded wines to ones of complexity, depth, longevity and interest – if SA is going to make a world-beating wine, it will probably be from Chenin Blanc. Also makes some of the longest-lived sweet wines in the world.

Characteristics:- flavours of ripe apples and pears in youth, maturing to honeyed richness, ‘wet wool’, buttered toast all balanced by a high acidity. Can be unwooded, wooded, dry, semi-sweet or if conditions are right, fully sweet as a result of noble rot.

Famous wines:- Vouvray, Savennieres, Coteaux du Layon (all off-dry to sweet French wines)

Good Local examples:- Ken Forrester, Raats Family, Teddy Hall, Eben Sadie

If it was a person: – Scarlett Johannsson


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