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What are the characteristics of the chenin blanc grape?

Few varietals make the range of wine styles that the Chenin Blanc grape does. The flavor profile of a dry Chenin Blanc is composed of tart green apples, melon, minerality and earthy notes. Dry Chenin Blanc pairs well with chicken or fish with mild sauces. They are also great on their own as an aperitif.

Slightly sweet Chenin Blanc often has green apple flavors with a hint of honey and melons on the nose. These off-dry versions have a bit more body and will stand up to richer sauces.

Additionally, the varietal produces some fabulous examples of complex dessert wines with high residual sugar. Under the right climatic and geologic conditions, botrytis cinerea, or “noble rot” will attack the grape. The most complex botrytis wines are usually made with grapes from older vineyards. Most botrytis wines are made with grapes grown in predominantly clay soils. Try these sweet versions with foie gras or blue cheese.

The grape is quite subject to the makeup of the soil in the vineyard. Sandy, well-drained soils make lighter, higher acid wines that can be great in their youth but that typically will not gain much with age. Calcerous clay arguably produces the most balanced, rounded wines. These characteristics fit the Clarksburg AVA well.

What are the characteristics of the chenin blanc grape?

Grapes picked at the peak of maturity can make impressive wines. Some producers use barrel aging, lees stirring or malolactic fermentation to counteract the acidity with a richer texture on the palate. When properly aged, high-quality Chenin Blanc will develop a deep honey color.

Though the varietal has many positive qualities, it is a delicate grape that is succeptible to disease and rot. Too much direct sunlight can also harm the grape.