Varietal of the Month: Chenin Blanc

Marcy Gordon on May 11, 2023

Have you noticed that Chenin Blanc is having a moment?  Its popularity has surged lately and seems to be on every wine list by the glass and bottle. It’s a versatile white wine with great texture that can vary in style from dry, crisp and lean, to rich and plush. It’s the signature grape of South Africa and also grown in abundance in the Lorie Valley of France. In the last ten years many California winemakers have been making Chenin Blanc and seeking out the old vine vineyards where it grows.

Here are some capsule reviews of Chenin Blanc you may find along the Wine Road.

Dry Creek Vineyard 2021 Dry Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg

The 2021 Dry Creek Vineyard Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg sets the stage for enjoyment right from the very first sniff. Aromas of honey, peach, orange blossom butterscotch and touch of salty pretzel, which some may call brioche, fill the glass. Great balance of fruit and acidity with rich crisp flavors of apples, pears and honeydew melon with a bright hint of pith and pomelo. It’s juicy, refreshing, delicious and the scent alone will transport you to your happy place—perhaps on a large verandah with a view and a dish of spicy shrimp creole. Yes indeed, that would pair nicely. 

ABV 12%

Hartford Family Winery 2021 Jurassic Vineyard Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley

The 2021 Hartford Court Old Vine Chenin Blanc hails from the Jurassic Vineyard in Santa Ynez Valley, a choice spot for Chenin with fossil rich soils and cool pacific breezes. On the nose, light white floral notes with pineapple and pear and a hint of passion fruit. On the palate it’s soft and chalky, yet lean with flavors of vanilla, ginger, lemon, nutmeg and chamomile with a bright saline note on the finish. Pair with curry chicken salad. 

ABV 12.1%

Moshin Vineyards 2021 Chenin Blanc, Green Valley Vineyard

The Moshin Vineyards 2021 Chenin Blanc is from the Green Valley Vineyard in Solano County. In the glass it’s a joyful rush of spring flowers and scents of ginger, lemon, pear, a touch of chalk. The palate echoes the nose and adds depth with layers of chalk, ginger, pomelo, citrus peel, lemon and ripe honeydew melon. Great acidity with a long pleasing finish and a note of beeswax at the end. It’s the perfect bottle to plop down with in the middle of a meadow and become one with the essence of Spring. Pair with a warm and creamy Croque Monsieur (ham and cheese sandwich.) 

ABV 13%

Posted by Marcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine and travel writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma Magazine, The California Travel Guide, and Forbes Travel Guide. In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. She is the co-host of the award winning Wine Road Podcast.

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