There are many styles of wine or varietals that have captured my heart over the years. Early on it was big reds like Cabernet Sauvignon that really wowed me. Over time my palate has shifted to find subtlety and finesse, from big heavy red wines to light, airy whites. My mood or what I am serving with it, also affects what sounds good to me. Chenin Blanc is a variety that has become my multi-tool to always have around. It has become a favorite suggestion for customers coming into Brix. On many occasions wine consumers have not been exposed to this variety, but as soon as we get this varietal into customers’ hands, it becomes one of their favorites as well.
All varieties are affected by the geographical location and weather and some tend to magnify their sense of place more than others. When the soil, location and weather create a sense that what you are drinking and experiencing reminds you of that place. That sense of place is referred to as terroir. Chenin Blanc does a great job with that. I first fell in love with Chenin Blanc when I was drinking Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France. You see them produced in a wide range from bone dry to sugary sweet and also sparkling. Flavors of peach, apricot, and honeydew melon are predominant. Depending on the soil it is grown in will also affect the mouthfeel. It has pronounced acidity and that makes pairing with food a dream: It can go with seafood, light pastas, salads, lamb, pork and roasted chicken. Various cheeses also make a great pairing with Chenin Blanc.
North American winemakers have embraced the varietal from time to time but it has never quite gained the traction that you see out of France and South Africa. South Africa produces over 50% of the total Chenin Blanc production globally. There is tremendously wide range of styles of Chenin Blanc that come from South Africa and we stock as many as we can get our hands on at Brix. They range anywhere from $10 to upwards of $40. The South African examples are delicious and the winemakers from the region have embraced it as well. Next time you are searching for something new or looking for something that would be great as a wine pairing or also great to just have refreshing glass of wine to excite you taste buds, choose a Chenin Blanc. Stop into Brix Bottleshop and we would be happy to guide you through our selection. Cheers!
Raymond Dickinson is the owner of Brix Bottleshop, a certified sommelier and a wine educator with decades of experience in the food and beverage industry. Brix Bottleshop, located at 115 S. Main St. in downtown Kalispell, can be found online at www.brixbottleshop.com.