Tag Archives: Chenin Blanc

Tasting Note: 45 North Chenin Blanc

This has a touch of Viognier in it – which beefs it up and turns this into more of a Rhone-style white.  They had a few unfortunate years of weather up north recently, so they had to bring in juice in from Oregon and Washington for this bottling.  But I’ve been impressed how 45 North always does well with Chenin and white Rhone grapes, and this is no exception.

45 North Chenin Blanc (2015) American – $22

Color: light gold.

Aroma: floral – jasmine, white grape, and vanilla predominate.

Taste: off-dry, with floral and white grape up front. The Viognier really makes a difference in the mouthfeel, turning this into a rich, unctuous, coat-your-tongue white. The acidity is perfectly balanced, and I found this smooth and an excellent food wine.

Stands up well to strong vegetal tastes like artichokes and asparagus.  Would also pair well with goat cheese.


Tasting Note – 45 North Chenin Blanc

Chenin is a grape that originates in the Loire valley in central France – it’s very popular in South Africa, and it’s grown in the US as well.  This is a nice find from a winery up in the Traverse City area that I’ve visited a few times.  I’m pairing this with plain risotto, and some oyster mushrooms that a friend harvested from the woods near his home.

45 North Chenin Blanc (2015) American – $22

20170630_183019Color: pale lemon-yellow.

Aroma: citrusy – lemon and mandarin orange, plus some orange-blossom floral notes.  Very inviting.

Taste: lush, with a balance of acidity and ripe citrus fruit right up front that makes you want to take a hefty gulp.  The midpalate continues with orange blossoms and some stone fruit.  The finish is quite long, and very harmonious.

With the rice and mushrooms, it fruit and touch of residual sugar serve as a nice contrast to the earthy richness of the meal.

As it warms up, it develops a nice hint of smokiness and dried apricot near the finish – yum!

This is a great wine for food (roasted chicken!) or for just having a glass after work.  I’d put this up against anything in its price range, from anywhere in the world.  Highly recommended!

Secateurs Chenin Blanc

I was able to do some shopping at Village Corner in Ann Arbor today, which some of my Dayton buddies have raved about. They have quite a nice selection, and I’m sure I’ll be back. In particular, they have some South African wines I haven’t run across before, and I’m trying one of those half-dozen or so tonight.

The name of the winery, “Secateurs”, comes from the French word for the ubiquitous garden shear, which is an everyday tool in the vineyard for pruning, cutting away diseased growth, and harvesting. The Swartland region lies almost due north of Capetown, inland from the Coastal range, and is a major grain producer in the lowland areas, in addition to the dry-farmed vineyards along the ridges and mountain slopes.

Secateurs Chenin Blanc (2012) Swartland, South Africa – $15.99

Photo0369Color: a pale, brassy yellow.

Aroma: the nose has a combination of Golden Delicious apple and citrus fruits, with just a touch of floral notes.

Taste: crisp and refreshing, with good acidity and hint of residual carbon dioxide. Taste notes are predominately citrus up front, with apple and some musky floral notes on the finish. This has the light body typical for the grape, and is balanced just until the very finish, when it gets a touch acrid.

Decent enough, but for this price range it ought to have some more mellow fruit notes on the end.

Drinking Tonight: Goats in Villages Chenin Blanc-Viognier

The Goats do Roam people have cut back on the number of wines they produce. That’s a good thing – they were getting to be a parody of themselves, in my opinion. During that process, they’ve private-labelled a few productions. This is clearly labelled as coming from them, but it’s sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s (in the Ohio market, at least). There’s nothing on the label about the blend proportions; let’s see what we can figure out. I’m drinking this with a seafood risotto.

Goats in Villages Chenin Blanc-Viognier (2010) Western Cape, South Africa – $12

Photo0256Color: full straw yellow with a lot of green undertones.

Aroma: big perfume aromas, which means that the Viognier percentage is significant. I get just a touch of the melon aroma from the Chenin Blanc – but Chenin is always quiet on the nose compared to Viognier.

Taste: ah, there’s the melon, followed by some dried apricot and more floral elements. I’m guessing that this is somewhere in the range of 60% Chenin and 40% Viognier. The finish is pretty powerful, with dried fruit and some candied/carmelized notes. It’s certainly big enough for risotto, and would easily handle lobster or hearty fin fish.

Overall, this is a nice example of the South African take on a White Rhone style. I like the visual and olfactory appeal, and it’s certainly big enough in the mouth. It’s good value for the money: not an absolute steal like some of the Spanish I’ve been drinking lately, but enough to get a Recommended tag from me. Buy a few bottles before it’s gone!


Geography: Loire Valley vs. Ohio Valley

I’ve long maintained that winemakers in the Ohio Valley – from the eastern stretches of Kentucky to the Mississippi River – should look to the Loire in France as a model for winemaking.  Here’s why.

Both rivers run along the boundary between a glacial plain and an uplifted limestone region, with outcroppings of harder igneous and metamorphic rock scattered throughout.

Both regions are continental in climate, with some maritime/lake influence. Thus they both have summers that are hot and humid, winters that are cold and wet, and concerns about frost in the spring.

Given that, it’s no surprise that the best vitis vinifera red in the Ohio Valley is Cabernet Franc. Brown County, Ohio has 3 award-winning Cabernet Franc producers (Meranda-Nixon, Kinkead Ridge, and La Vigna). Huber Winery in southeastern Indiana provided the initial plantings for Cab Franc growers in Lodi, and still provides library wines to them today.

So my challenge to the wineries in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois: show me what you can do with Chenin Blanc!