Is there a more under-rated grape variety than Chenin Blanc? We give the wines of its birthplace, the centre of the Loire valley, very little attention. And the spiritual home it found last century, South Africa, did much to lower Chenin’s reputation by sacrificing quality and instead shipping out copious bottles of characterless wine. Even if we haven’t quite seen the end of that approach, many of the South Africans are mercifully showing an ambition to win over the more educated wine consumer, and gradually building this variety’s reputation.
The flavours of Chenin can include well defined green fruit, stone fruit and even tropical fruit, depending on ripeness. But the thing that really makes Chenin tick is the taste of honey. It’s probably that note which makes the great sweet wines of this variety so popular (to those in the know). Then again, what’s wrong with some honey in a dry wine, like this example?
Morrisons were being modest in their tasting notes. Imagine taking a slice of crunchy apple, a firm slice of pear, smearing them with a light honey and then nibbling your way through this luscious, yet refreshing, snack. Save for the textural difference, the experience of our Chenin Blanc is pretty similar.
Except for one thing I haven’t mentioned yet: an intriguing note of aniseed on the nose, which returns and takes a long, slow and dignified bow through the wine’s finish. ‘Characterless’ this drink is not.
The recent Gold medal at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards was perhaps a bit of an over-achievement. But this is a very good wine. Chenin’s damaged (albeit recovering) reputation is probably the only thing holding the price down to a more than sensible £6.99.