What is the world’s greatest white wine?
It’s a question with many different answers, depending on who you're talking to. Chardonnay may be the preferred choice of many but Chenin Blanc comes a close second for wine lovers who like the balance that Chenin's naturally high acidity brings to bear on whites in a wider range of styles than most white grapes are capable of.
Sparkling, dry, off dry, medium dry and unctuously sweet. Chenin Blanc has the natural attributes to make all these styles and more.
It's also known as Pineau or Pineau de la Loire in its traditional homeland, aka the Loire Valley in north central France.
The Loire is the longest river in France and forms the basis of one of the country's most diverse wine regions. Its great white grapes are Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, both being made in a wide range of styles, due to the varying climatic zones along the river.
Ironically, the Loire is not the world's most heavily planted region when it comes to Chenin Blanc grapes today. That credit belongs to South Africa, which is home to approximately 18,200 hectares of Chenin, according to the latest statistics available, as of 2012. France, by contrast, has just under 10,000 hectares - almost half the amount.
But it's the sheer diversity and ageability of the Chenin Blanc grape that makes it a strong contender to be one of the wine world's faves when it comes to great whites.
Master of Wine, author and wine writer Jancis Robinson often writes of Chenin as a great white on the basis of its ability to age, evolve interesting flavours and retain its hallmark of freshness for decades, often even in humble, low priced wines.
Our wine of the week is further proof, if any was needed, that Chenin is one of the world's great whites.
Come and try it this Wednesday afternoon.
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