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This variety is the white grape of France's Loire Valley and in more recent history it was transplanted to South Africa where it now has more acreage than in all of the Loire Valley. Nonetheless, the French winemakers' experience with this classic grape proves advantageous and Chenin's most impressive, luxurious expressions come out of Anjou, Saumur and other Loire appellations. This grape makes some of the most interesting, pungent, aromatic and unusually flavored white wines imaginable. The younger, dry wines take some adjusting to appreciate as they can be powerfully mineral, acidic and even salty, yet nearly unbelievably complex. If you have the patience to wait a couple decades, these wines become opulent, rich and honey-laden with ripe apricot, peach and limestone character. The combination of expressive fruit, complex minerality and mouth-watering acidity makes Loire Chenin Blanc tantilizing and often goes underappreciated. Outside of the Loire, Chenin Blanc is often used to produce more simple white wines or for blending in basic table wines.

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Colin Crowley is the Executive Chef at Terlato Wines International. Colin is happy to answer your e-mailed questions about wine and food pairings.

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