Chenin

Chenin, also known as Pineau de la Loire is a white wine grape variety from the Loire valley of France. It’s high acidity means it can be used for anything from bone dry sparkling wines to sweet well-balanced dessert wines. The human intervention in these grapes is very important to control it’s natural vigor and the time of harvesting determines the style of wine we want to make, nearly all Chenin is hand harvested. The second most important country to grow Chenin is South-Africa where the grape was probably imported in the 16th century. The under ripe grapes are used to make a crémant de Loire whereas the perfectly ripe ones are used for AOC wines like Vouvray or Anjou.

 

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The overripe grapes are used for off-dry and sweet wines and the ones that can reach noble rot will be used for viscous dessert wines. In Vouvray with it’s predominantly argilo calcaire clay the wines are rounded with both acidity and weight and if the yields are kept low it will express floral flavors and honey. Vincent Careme who produces Chenin wines in the Loire valley as well as South-Africa, is a brilliant example of how complex these wines can be. The harvesting of Chenin will often happen in a succession of pickings known as tries, depending on the ripeness of the grapes. With higher yields used in other countries like Australia or the United states the wine will become “one of the nastiest wines” according to wine expert Oz Clark.