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Reasons to drink Chenin Blanc now

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Reasons to drink Chenin Blanc now

Reasons to drink Chenin Blanc now

No doubt about it, South Africa is Chenin Blanc country. We find out what makes this wonderful wine so popular, as well as look into oaked vs unoaked styles.

By Fresh Living

Whether you're a local resident or just visiting, it's only right that you should enjoy this popular varietal, seeing as South Africa is known as Chenin country. And there's a huge variety to choose from, as a visit to your nearest Pick n Pay wine aisle will prove. The main reason why you should drink this wine is its dazzling versatility. This one vino alone can display a whole host of summery flavours.

Chenin Blanc vine cuttings were first brought to South Africa in 1655 and they took to the Cape climate with ease. Today it's the most commonly grown grape variety in local vineyards. The vine staves off most diseases and produces a grape that's versatile to work with in the cellar. It can be used to make everything from bubbly and dry wines to semi-sweet late harvests, and even brandy!

What's it all about?

Chenin is typically a crisp, dry (though sweeter versions are also produced) wine with apple, citrusy and nutty flavours. As it matures, it may become a little sweeter in taste and darker in colour and gain honey-like notes. Some Chenins are lightly oaked, so if you're drinking a white wine that you think tastes rather like a Sauvignon Blanc but has a slightly smoky, oaky flavour, it may well be a Chenin, as most Sauvignon Blancs (though not all) are unoaked.

What to expect

Chenin has a variety of flavour profiles, depending on the winemaking style.

Dry – slightly mineral-tasting flavours of pear and quince and floral notes.

Off-dry – sweeter due to some of the grape's natural sugars left in the wine during the winemaking process. These wines lean towards ripe, fruity flavours of pear, ginger, granadilla and honey.

Sweet – these have flavours of dried fruit and citrus with almond.

A few of our favourites to start with

Kaapzicht Chenin Blanc, R85 – PnP Exclusive

Notes of ripe quince, pineapple and stone fruit, with some interesting savoury undertones. It has a lightly textured palate, with a hint of sweetness and balancing crunchy acid, results in a brisk finish. Enjoy with an al fresco meal during the summertime.

Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Chenin Blanc, R80

A wonderfully full-bodied quality wine with refreshing citrus aromas and flavours, and a lovely, pleasing aftertaste. Try it with trout, basil-stuffed tomatoes and salads containing avocado or green beans.

Millstream Chenin Blanc, R45 – PnP Exclusive

A well-balanced wine with crisp acidity and tropical fruit notes. Subtle aromas of guava and pink grapefruit. This is an easy-drinking dry, light-bodied wine that's great to pair with salads, grilled prawns, roasted chicken and light pasta dishes.

Chenin Blanc is a wine for everyone – they almost always provide fantastic quality and value. Next time you're in the wine aisle, add a bottle to your trolley and try it for yourself.