Chenin blanc is certainly one of my favourite grapes, with a singular texture and a uncommon versatility. It’s succesful not solely of transparently expressing the qualities of various terroirs however of creating bone-dry wines, succulently candy wines and an entire vary in between.
For all its talents, chenin has not unfold via the world like, say, riesling, its peer in versatility amongst white grapes. Is this as a result of, like nebbiolo, the nice pink grape of northern Italy, chenin blanc merely does greatest in its residence territory? Or is it a difficulty of promoting? That is, few authorities in late 20th-century wine historical past spent a lot time extolling its virtues.
That has modified some in recent times. Pascaline Lepeltier, for one, a associate in Racines NY and a world-renowned sommelier, has been an apostle of chenin blanc for many of the previous decade. As her affect within the wine world has grown, she has helped chenin blanc discover extra of an viewers.
Ms. Lepeltier grew up within the Anjou area of the Loire Valley, which, together with the Touraine area close by, accounts for the areas during which the best examples of chenin blanc have been made. It additionally does splendidly in South Africa and as soon as was widespread in California.
In mid-20th century California, chenin blanc was used typically in low cost jug wines and in candy whites, earlier than curiosity appeared to ebb in favor of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. In the final decade, nevertheless, the state has seen a kind of mini-renaissance, with the rediscovery of older plots of chenin blanc and renewed curiosity within the wines.
Aside from a couple of different pockets — let’s not overlook Limoux within the Languedoc, the place it’s a part of a mix in Crémant de Limoux, a glowing wine — you don’t see a lot chenin blanc.
This month I assumed we’d attempt chenin blancs from three totally different areas — Chinon within the Touraine, Swartland in South Africa and Dry Creek Valley in California. The level will not be a microscopic examination of terroirs however a possibility to drink and examine totally different expressions. The three bottles I counsel are:
A.A. Badenhorst Swartland Chenin Blanc Secateurs 2019 (Broadbent Selections, Sonoma, Calif.) $16
Leo Steen Dry Creek Valley Saini Farms Chenin Blanc 2019 $18
What to Cook This Week
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A salty-sweet garlic and scallion marinade enhances these Korean beef burgers with sesame-cucumber pickles from Kay Chun.If you may get your arms on good salmon on the market, do this high quality recipe for roasted dill salmon.Consider these dan dan noodles from Café China in New York. Outrageous.How about crispy bean muffins with harissa, lemon and herbs? Try them with some yogurt and lemon wedges.Angela Dimayuga’s bistek is among the nice feeds, with rice on the facet.
Bernard Baudry Chinon Blanc Le Domaine 2019 (Louis/Dressner Selections, New York) $35
These are entry-level wines, although the worth of the Baudry is maybe inflated by the tariffs that President Donald J. Trump in 2019 levied on sure wines and spirits from the European Union, a tariff that has been suspended briefly because the United States and Europe attempt to work out commerce disputes.
If you possibly can’t discover these producers, please contemplate Ken Forrester, Thistle&Weed, Raats Family, Mullineux, Storm Point or Mother Rock amongst South African chenin blancs; Lo-Fi, Field Recordings, Sandlands, Lieu Dit, Broc Cellars, Lang&Reed or Rococo amongst California producers; and Huet, Breton, Château Yvonne, François Chidaine, Michel Autran, Vincent Carême and numerous others from the Loire Valley.
Chenin blanc goes properly with many various types of meals, together with seafood, sushi, seasonal greens, cheeses, risottos, poultry and quiches simply to call a couple of. Chill the wine reasonably, and revel in.
Join the Discussion
Eric Asimov, The New York Times wine critic, is discussing chenin blanc. Sample wines, and as you sip, ask your self these questions. Join the dialog by sharing your ideas within the feedback of this text.
What does the wine really feel like within the mouth?
Where do these wines vary on a scale of dry to candy?
How do they modify within the glass over time?
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