Even though Chenin Blanc is still thought of as one of the more obscure varietals inCalifornia, in the 1980s, California actually had more Chenin Blanc planted thanFrance! Unfortunately, during the 70’s and 80’s, most of the wine made using Cheninwas simple and commercial“plonk,”often harboring a fairly high level of sweetness.
South Africa is the country that has really started to take Chenin Blanc seriously, withnow just over twice the acreage of France.
Currently there are over 24+ different grape varieties growing in Clarksburg, with thebest Chenin Blancand Petite Sirah wines in California hailing from the little-knownregion.
If, like me, you relish the opportunity get outside your“California wine comfort zone,”this is goingto be right up your alley! If you’ve ever tasted Chenin Blanc before, prepare for an eye-openingexperience with the Rendez-vous. I was prepared formuch more sweetness than I was greetedwith.Seriously thirst-quenching and mineral-drive from start to finish, showing pink grapefruit, peach,green apple, white flowers, a hint of pineapple and mango. Not in any way cloying. Crisp, with agood heft of acidity, reminding me very-much of the better Chenin Blancs coming out of the Loire.This is quintessential summer wine if ever I’ve tasted one!
I think the same thing that happened Riesling has occurred with Chenin Blanc, in that it’sdeveloped a reputation as being inherently sweet. The beauty of this wine is that I think it willshare much of the same versatility with food as the drier styles of Riesling.