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5 of the best: Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc Loire Vineyard

It’s South Africa’s most extensively planted grape, having been taken to the country in the mid-17th century. The grape can also be found in the US, Australia and New Zealand although in far more modest quantities than South Africa - where it accounts for roughly a fifth of all vineyard plantings. Its home is in France’s Loire Valley, where it composes floral, fruit-driven wines, as well as finding its way into the sweet wines of Bonnezeaux and sparkling Crémant de Loire wines.

Chenin Blanc is versatile and is capable of adapting to a diversity of consumer tastes. Chenin Blanc wines can range from dry whites for summertime sipping to richer, fuller styles comparable to an oaked chardonnay. In South Africa, the grape is experiencing something of a renaissance as winemakers take another look at a grape once regarded as a workhorse added to blends. Chenin Blanc is now declaring itself as a grape capable of crafting stunning wines.

We’ve taken a look through our range to bring to you 5 Chenin Blanc wines we think your customers will love supping this spring. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Anjou Chenin Blanc Sec, Château de Fesles

Château de Fesles is found in the southern tip of the Anjou region in the Loire Valley. Close to the River Layon and very near to the tiny village of Bonnezeaux, which takes its name from the quality of the water found there. While the current buildings were built in the 1800s, the château dates back around 1000 years to 1070. It takes a commanding location above the valley, 21 church spires can be seen from the windows at the front.

The wine, produced of 100% Chenin Blanc bred in the seasoned La Chapelle vineyard, is matured in oak casks for about a year prior to bottling. Barely off-dry it is a true sec, with a richness on the palate being matched excellently by the acidity. It displays odours of fern, lime and elderberry, the palate is weighty and the finish is long.

Nederburg The Anchorman Chenin Blanc, Western Cape

Nederburg has won more awards and accolades than any other winery in South Africa, making it the nation's most decorated name in wine. Throughout its history, Nederburg has kept strong ties with Germany and Eastern Europe and pioneered many vineyard and winery techniques still extensively used today in South Africa. This wine is named for Nederburg founder Philppus Wolvaart who originally planted Chenin Blanc in the late 18th century.

The fruit for 'The Anchorman' was sourced from mature, low-yielding, dry-land bush vines in Darling, Paarl and Durbanville. The fruit was fermented by a number of methods including in stainless steel, second-use oak barrels and large oak vats; a share also experienced a ‘carbonic maceration’ fermentation to produce an overtly fruity wine. The elements were lees-aged for approximately nine months prior to blending. Dry, minerally and well-structured, it shows ripe apricot, orange with hints of raisin, spice and floral notes. This wine won Silver at the Sommelier Wine Awards 2017.

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc, Western Cape

At Kleine Zalze, the winemaking team think that the key to retailing wine to the On-Trade is to understand how the wine must perform on the restaurant floor. Having their own hotel and restaurant gives them lots of chance to practice. Kleine Zalze feels great pride in being able to stand beside Matthew Clark customers in the UK and identify with them in the trials and tribulations of managing a hotel and restaurant.

This wine is crafted of fruit from three diverse soils. Vineyards are planted with old unirrigated bush vines to ensure a crisp microclimate around the grapes with no direct sun. Midway into fermentation, the separate liquids are moved into oak barrels, 30% new, 30% second- and 40% third-fill. The wine is matured on its lees for 12 months with monthly bâtonnage. Bright aromas of lime, melon and herbs on the nose with bands of citrus and elderflower on the palate. Rich fruit and French oak flavours give this wine a smooth mouthfeel and a long, fresh finish. This wine won Silver at the International Wine Challenge 2017.

Nederburg Winemaker's Reserve Noble Late Harvest, South Africa

Former Nederburg winemaker Razvan Macici mastered how to craft late harvest wines from his father who was a legendary producer of sweet wine in Romania. Not many people would debate that not only is Razvan one of the greatest producers of sweet wine in the southern hemisphere, but he is also one of the greatest and most influential winemakers in South Africa's history.

Ruled by Chenin Blanc, this dessert wine has about 25% of the Muscat de Frontignan grape in the blend too. This wine is massively influenced by the presence of Botrytis affected grapes. Bright gold, with lime-green highlights; it dispenses fragrances of fresh pineapple, dried apricots with floral and spice notes. This wine routinely wins top awards: this 2014 vintage was awarded 95 Points in Tim Atkin's SA Special Report 2016 and starred as one of the sweet wines of the year.

Sauvion Crémant de Loire Brut

Pierre-Jean Sauvion is the fourth generation of his family to create wines at the Loire Valley's Château du Cléray. The business is in the centre of the Nantais, at the western end of the Loire, close to the ocean and its accommodating cooling winds. The Château produces a wide variety of wines.

A blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes from vineyards surrounding Angers, Saumur and Tours is used to create this Crémant. It is made using the Traditional Method and the wine is aged for a year in the bottle preceding its release. The mousse is creamy and frothy with full flavours of peach and white-fleshed fruits, accompanied by an invigorating finish.

If you want to stock any of the wines mentioned, click here to place an order online now, or here to request an account with us; and don’t forget we’re here to support you with everything you need to ensure that your wine range is a success, from free menu design and print services to staff training.

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