Chenin Blanc – What’s not to love?

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“What’s your favourite wine?” If I’ve been asked this once, I’ve been asked it a thousand times and I’m never sure if they mean what is my most memorable bottle of all time or rather, my most often purchased, best-quality-relative-to-price label. Either way, I always wriggle out of answering by countering “What is your favourite movie?”  Wine, like film, is surely a product of curiosity. Citizen Kane offers a vastly different cinematic experience to Star Wars but I’m glad I’ve seen both.

Compelled to undertake yet another Q&A interview recently, I was relieved to get a slight variation on the “favourite wine” riff: “Any specific wine or variety you’re raving about at the moment?” and I dissolved not to duck the question, at least not this time around. My reply was Chenin Blanc.

Because of its propensity towards stylistic diversity, Chenin Blanc is probably never going to enjoy the same commercial success as Sauvignon Blanc (which is so much easier to understand on account of its typically overt aromatics and generous fruit). By happy accident rather than good planning, however, Chenin is South Africa’s most widely planted variety (17 543ha or 18.5% of the national vineyard) and makes up the majority of old vines – for all intents and purposes it is our national grape.