The mofo guide to | Chenin blanc
Chenin blanc, a classic French varietal that’s found a notable home in South Africa. It’s a grape that shows as many personalities as there are mofos to love it. So where to start? Here’s your need to know.
Check out: South African Selection - White Wines
What's great about chenin blanc
Chenin blanc can be a real chameleon in a glass - from dry to lusciously sweet dessert wines (sometimes even sparkling), it’s a grape that’s capable of producing really versatile food wines that’ll be welcome at the table, whatever you have planned.
Plus, if you like your wines with more complexity, don't overlook the age-worthiness of some chenin blancs either - the best examples can mature gracefully for decades, developing even more character over time, if that’s your sort of thing.
Check out: Metzer Wines Montane Chenin Blanc 2018
What to expect with a chenin blanc
Take a sip of a well-crafted chenin blanc and you'll likely be met with a delightful mix of zesty, racy acidity and bright fruits. Which fruits? Take your pick - citrus, apple, pear, peach, honeydew melon, and even tropical fruits like pineapple can all make an appearance, depending on the growing location - dry French chenin will typically (but not always) have slightly more citrus than South African chenin, which will tend to the more developed stone fruits. Depending on the winemaker’s hand, you might also find some toast and smoke from oak fermentation on maturation in your glass too.
In sweeter examples that are made from late harvest or alternatively botrytised fruit (aka effected by “noble rot” concentrating sugar and flavour), you’ll likely find more apricot and honey notes - but even in sweeter styles, there's always a certain snap to the wine, a briskness that keeps things lively and interesting.
Check out: David & Nadia Chenin Blanc 2021
What temperature should I serve chenin blanc at?
This one is going to depend on the style - for sweet or sparkling chenin you’d want your wine to be well chilled (6-8°C - overnight in the fridge); for dry or off-dry chenin you’ll be looking at 10-12 °C (chilled, a couple of hours in the fridge). But you know how you like your favourite wine - our advice is that it’s better to overchill and let the wine come up in temperature, rather than resort to the crime of diluting your wine with ice.
What foods pair with chenin blanc?
If you want versatility, you’ve got it - chenin blanc can pair well with a whole heap of stuff you'll find at the table. It's a natural match for most things you’ll find under the umbrella of “seafood”, and is great with chicken or pork too. But don't be afraid to get a little creative - a well-chilled bottle of chenin blanc will go great alongside spiced Indian or Thai fare. And sweeter styles of chenin? Look no further than a wedge of salty blue cheese.
When should I be drinking chenin blanc?
As for when to drink chenin blanc, that's really up to you. It's a refreshing white wine that can be enjoyed year-round, but it truly shines in the warmer months - but don't let that stop you pairing it with something delicious in winter either.
Keen to explore some great Saffer wines? Discover chenin blanc alongside a host of other delicious whites in our South African Selection - White Wines.