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Subtle, textural and versatile, chenin blanc is no longer your grandmother's white wine.

Peter Bourne Qantas Magazine






It seems like chenin blanc is having a moment... Yep, it's back in the spotlight after almost two centuries in the wilderness, as a dedicated band of winegrowers celebrate the grape's versatile nature - sparkling or still, sweet or dry - and its ability to age gracefully. Wait. Two centuries? The first vines came to WA's Swan Valley in 1829 from South Africa, where it's known as steen and is that country's leading white grape. But chenin blanc's homeland is the Loire Valley in France, where it shines in the Vouvray and Saumur appellations; the sweet wines from Bonnezeaux and Coteaux du Layon are highly prized. How does it taste? Chenin is a subtle grape with a hallmark acidity, an intriguing texture and flavours that run from citrus and nashi pear to quince and custard apple. It's similar to semilion but with the flavour dialled up a few notches. What food does it pair best with? Fermented in stainless steel, chenin blanc is a clean, crunchy partner to oysters or sashimi. When it's nurtured in seasoned oak, it exhibits a chardonnay-like structure that suits roast chicken or Spanish mackerel. Botrytis-affected chenins make brilliant dessert wines to sip with tarte Tatin or crème caramel. Where are the best Australian drops from? In the 1970s, chenin blanc made up the core of the top-selling Houghton White Burgundy, though the specific varietal blend wasn't mentioned on the label. That retro favourite was first made by Jack Mann in 1937 with grapes from the Swan Valley, which remains a key region alongside Margaret River. Chenin blanc also thrives in McLaren Vale's Mediterranean climate, where that high acidity comes into play. How much does it cost? About $20 to $60 will cover most bottles, though the top dessert wines from the Loire soar into the hundreds. What are the labels to look for? From WA there's Vino Volta, Cullen, Voyager, Dormilona and Pierro. Try Coriole, Dowie Doole and Aphelion from McLaren Vale and if you're after a wildcard, Beechworth's Castagna is a stellar drop.


L.A.S. Vino CBDB

Nic Peterkin's Chenin Blanc Dynamic Blend is made with biodynamic grapes gently pressed and aged in seasoned oak. Seaspray and white peach aromas give way to quince and poached pear flavours and a saline finish.


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