Chenin Blanc celebrates a big year

04 December, 2019 by Andy Young

Chenin Blanc is celebrating a successful year, as the resurgence of one of the Loire Valley’s most noble grape varieties reaches Australian shores.

Kicking off at the first ever International Chenin Blanc conference held in Angers, (Loire) in June which attracted producers, the year has come to a close with hugely popular trade masterclasses in Melbourne and Sydney, which showcase many of the styles the variety is famous for.

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Franck Moreau MS, Group Sommelier for Merivale who led the Sydney Masterclass said: “It’s always a pleasure showing the full range of wines Chenin from the Loire can make, they offer incredible quality across the board, demonstrate the aging potential of the grape in many styles and from a trade professionals point of view, offer great value and huge customer satisfaction.”

The Loire Valley Wines Bureau (LVWB) said that the rediscovery of Chenin Blanc is been driven by a number of factors including the wide variety of styles. These range from dry whites through to fine wines with strong cellaring potential. The region also produces world class sweet wines which can age for over 100 year such as Bonnezeaux and Coteaux de Layon.

Crémant de Loire is the region’s most iconic sparkling wine and accounts for 63 per cent of the 522,00hl of Chenin which was produced in 2018. Vouvray Sparkling, generally 100 per cent Chenin Blanc and bottled fermented, has seen Australian trade interest climb with imports up 85 per cent in volume and up 51 per cent in value in the first six months of 2019.

While variety is a big factor in the region’s popularity it is the dry white category that is bringing newcomers to the grape.

LVWB said: “Better viticulture and a new wave of ambitious winemakers are expressing the most of Chenin Blanc’s minerality, precision and freshness.

“Well priced examples from Anjou Saumur have increased 36 per cent in volume and 37 per cent in value in the first six months of 2019 (YoY), along with Vouvray wines increasing 13 per cent in volume and 18 per cent in value.”

For more on the region and its wines, head to the Loire Valley Wines website.