A versatile, richly textured white with beautifully ripe citrus, white floral, and chalk notes.
Producer: François Chidaine
Region: Loire Valley, France
Grapes: 100% Chenin Blanc
Medium Body, Juicy
Flavors: Citrus, beeswax, honey
Pairing: Chicken, fish, vegetables
Chidaine specializes in classic, pure expressions of Chenin Blanc, and this stunning bottle is no exception. Ripe citrus and white floral notes dominate both the nose and the palate, and Chenin’s typical honey-and-beeswax finish lingers long. A brilliant mineral note runs throughout, lending a serious elegance to the structure. “Of all white grapes, Chenin is the most food friendly,” Sommelier Carl York said. Pair with everything, but especially tricky spring vegetables, roasted poultry, and early summer seafood stews like bouillabaisse.
Carl York called this unusually produced Chenin Blanc “a wine of hardship.” As climate change wreaks havoc on traditionally productive regions and winemakers’ margins shrink, more and more producers are looking beyond their home vineyards for grapes to tide their wineries over, either until the weather shifts or a more permanent solution makes itself clear. Chidaine is among the legion of embattled vignerons who have chosen to caravan to less affected regions in search of more fruitful vineyards.
“The Loire Valley has had several vintages of getting obliterated by natural causes,” York said. “[Chidaine] literally didn’t have enough grapes to make wine. He went down to Limoux [in Southwest France] and bought grapes so he could make wine. It’s this, ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ scenario.”
Though Chenin Blanc is best known coming from the Loire’s Vouvray and Montlouis subzones (where Chidaine’s own vineyards lie) the versatile white grape also has roots in the warmer climes of Southern France, where its opulence and complexity tend to show more vividly.