£11–£14.39, Tesco, The General Wine Co
Chenin Blanc comes in all shapes and sizes: dry, medium, sweet, still, sparkling, oaked, unoaked, mass-market, limited-production (but rarely overpriced), early drinking, long-lived, young vines, old vines and more.
There's something for everyone and yet as a grape variety it's never captured hearts in the way that whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay have.
It's not as if it's difficult to pronounce, but maybe the sheer diversity of styles works against it, making it hard for people to get a handle on it. Or perhaps the fact that so many of the vineyards are in just two countries, South Africa and France, has limited it.
Enough musing. Let me tempt you with The Bernard Series Chenin Blanc, a complex, textural, zesty dry white with lemon-edged tropical fruit and creamy oak on the nose and a palate that blends succulence, creaminess and squeezed-lime acidity with fragrant white peach, spice and toast.
The grapes come from certified old vines in three vineyards planted in 1971, 1982 and 1983, the largest in the cool-climate Cape Town appellation and the other two in the Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch. It’s fermented naturally with wild yeasts in a combination of foudre (large oak casks), concrete tanks, amphorae and 300-litre barrels (30% new) and bottled around 10 months later.
I drank it with roast poussin and homemade mayo, but this kind of Chenin is versatile. It would be good with prawns and crab, roast root veg, squashes and shallots, vitello tonnato, roast pork (especially if you’re cooking it with apple or quince, as you might well be doing at this time of year) and with hard and semi-hard cheeses (cow’s, sheep or goat’s). 13.5%. Bottle weight: a heavy-handed 839g.
Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2012, Coastal Region, South Africa
£11, Tesco; £14.49, The General Wine Co
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