Chenin blanc (also known as pineau de la Loire among other names) is a white wine grape from the Loire Valley, France. Its high acidity makes it useful for the production of sparkling wines and balanced dessert wines, although it can produce very soft and neutral wines if the vigor of the vine is not controlled.
The Chenin blanc grape emerges early and matures medium or late in terms of harvest time. However, in hot years, the balance between the marginal climate of the Loire and the heat necessary for the grape to reach full maturity gives the grape the potential to produce wines with a certain depth and finesse. The age of the vine can influence the quality of the wine. Older vines naturally produce low yields. When the grape is infected with noble rot, yields also decrease and certain flavors are intensified. In these cases the wine develops fewer floral aromas but adds deeper and more faceted notes.
New clinical varieties have been developed that delay sprouting and increase the development of sugar in grapes during the ripening phase. Six of these new clones have been approved by the French government. The vine grows semi-straight and has leaves with 3 to 5 lobes. It tends to have early buds, and produces conical bunches of late-maturing yellow-green grapes. The grapes are 16 mm long by 14.2 mm wide, with an average weight of 1.79 g
Chenin Blanc wines
Chenin blanc aromas and flavors include a mineralized, plum, angelica and honey bouquet. Chenin wines produced from grapes with noble rot often have notes of peach and honey, which transform as they age into barley, marzipan and quince. The dry or semi-sweet wine of the Loire usually has notes of apple, plum and calcareous minerals that become aromas of honey, acacia and quince. New World wines, like South African wines, are often made to be consumed young and exhibit rich notes of tropical fruits such as banana, guava, pear and pineapple. The alcohol level of dessert wines does not usually exceed 12%, which gives more balance to these wines. Drier Chenin wines are more likely to have around 13.5%
Chenin blanc can be a very versatile variety when accompanying meals, although the great variety of wines of this variety must be taken into account. Lighter and drier wines can go well with light dishes such as salads, fish and chicken. Sweeter wines can pair well with spicy dishes of Asian or Hispanic food. The acidity of semi-dry wines can go well with creamy sauces and pate.