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The Chenin Blanc grape which originates from Anjou, in the Loire Valley of France, is a greatly underrated grape and is so versatile, it's almost schizophrenic. It can produce both honeyed dessert wines like Vouvray (though usually sweet, Vouvray also comes in dry versions) or dry wines like Saumur. Both these wines come in still or sparkling variants. And you thought it was only good for the inexpensive, undemanding, quaffers lining supermarket shelves?

If I had to describe Chenin Blanc in say, two words, they would be "floral" and "honeyed".
Though this seems to be the grape's key notes, Loire valley specimens often come across as more complex and richer with more than a hint of peaches or apricots in the mix, yet, still with enough acidity to give it an interesting edge and save it from being cloying.

In California, where it is also widely planted, the Chenin Blanc grape is used to produce rather neutral, uncomplicated, medium dry wines, precisely the kind that this potentially brilliant grape has unfortunately become known for.

In South Africa where it is more well known as Steen, and where it happens to be the single most planted grape, red or white, the wines it produces tend to be in the same vein as those of California. What distinguishes South African Chenin Blanc though, is that it has more acidity than either French or Californian models and to me, always, a whiff of green apple, as well as a slight and rather welcome prickle in the mouth.