Best Chenin Blanc – 10 dry Loire Chenins worth seeking out
May 28, 2020
Fresh, zingy and diverse, dry Chenin Blanc is one of the overlooked wonders of the wine world. Here are 10 great options from the Loire Valley that are drinking well now and have the potential to age further…
Dry Chenin Blanc wines can be a wonderful thing given the right occasion.
Chenin Blanc is argueably one of the world’s most versatile grape varieties capable of producing exceptionally age-worthy sweet wines and a wide range of fine dry wines.
Its high acidity also makes it suitable for sparkling wines as well as the base for fortified wines and spirits.
Chenin Blanc is found in most New World wine regions, and is the most widely planted grape variety in South Africa, but its native heartland is France’s Loire region, where its known as Pineau or Pineau de la Loire.
Basic Loire Chenin exhibits simple floral aromas and refreshing high acidity alongside quince and apple flavours in dry styles and a signature honeyed character in sweet expressions.
In the Loire Valley it is considered a premium quality grape able to produce serious world class wines with dry styles more prevalent in Savennières – the grape’s one definitively dry appellation with 95% of production being in dry/sec.
Loire Appellations which tell you the wine is made from Chenin Blanc
- Crémant de Loire (Sparkling)
- Quarts de Chaume
- Coteaux du Layon
- Coteaux de l’Aubance
* This is not a complete list, only listing the easiest to find
This collection of 10 great dry Loire Chenin Blancs offers wines that have distinct regional typicity as well as intensity and precision of flavours at a range of price points.
Top recommendations from Decanter’s Regional Profile on Savennières include Domaine du Closel’s Clos du Papillon 2016 scoring 95 points offering a ‘vibrant mouthfeel and crystalline texture’ as well as Damien Laureau, Les Genêts 2015 which has a ’lovely sense of minerality and a mouthcoating texture’ both available for under £40/$40.
A top-scoring organic pick is Domaine aux Moines, La-Roche-aux-Moines, 2016 which is a ‘powerful style with lashings of apple fruit, citrus and nutty savoury characters’ and for a biodynamic option from ‘one of the standout producers in the small appellation of Jasnières’ seek out Domaine de Bellivière, Les Rosiers, 2017 which is ‘very precise, with a touch of honey, attractive weight and concentration and a long, vibrant finish.’
Three great alternatives under £20/$20 include one from Vouvray – Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau, Cuvée Silex 2018 that ‘delivers the moreish combination of steely acidity with sweet peaches and pear creaminess’. One from Montlouis-sur Loire – Domaine des Liards and its Montlouis Sec which ‘boasts concentrated ripe apple, crisp citrus acidity and a lingering richness of creamed honey.’
Finally, a great Chinon bottling that can also be found for a similar price point, Couly-Dutheil’s Les Chanteaux 2015 with ‘enticing aromas of ripe pear, chalk and minerals’.
For a wine ‘distinctly Loire in character’ chosen by Natasha Hughes MW in her list of 12 classic wines to test your skills, opt for Domaine de Rocheville’s La Jouvencelle from Saumur with ‘Zesty, crunchy green apple and chamomile notes, allied to a dry palate and crisp acidity point directly to Chenin Blanc.’
These wines all offer immediate drinking pleasure but some also have an ageing potential that will see them increase in complexity over the next 10 to 15 years.
The 10 best Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley
“A brilliant value Chenin that delivers the moreish combination of steely acidity with sweet peaches and pear creaminess. There is a touch of residual sugar in this – no more than 9g/l – but it is only discernible through the weight of fruit, never through sweetness. The vines are all aged between 30 and 40 years old, from a certified organic vineyard (farmed biodynamically). Drunk over a family lunch with heaped plates of langoustines and prawns, topped of with baguette and salty butter. Heaven, from an estate that I don’t know well but was made hugely happy by.
Drinking Window 2019 – 2023”