Drink Chenin - Single varietal tasting

#DRINKCHENIN is a worldwide event that was featured in 12 US cities and South Africa and beyond on June 17, 2016 which seeks to spread the word about this versatile varietal.

Remember our single variant tasting with Margarita Madness article? Here is a spin-off of that concept, but instead of tasting a single cocktail recipe replacing ingredients one-by-one, we are tasting 12 wines made from the same grape: Chenin Blanc

Ever wonder what 100% chenin tastes like from wineries around the world? In celebration of #DRINKCHENIN, The SE Wine Collective in Portland, Oregon provided the ultimate "drink & learn" environment where you could taste from 3 featured regions: Pacific Northwest, the Loire Valley in France, and South Africa (which I hear is currently the largest producer of chenin blanc). There was even a single vineyard variant where 2 different winemakers harvested the same lot to create two wildly different wines. Fascinating!

The range of flavors shattered my prejudices of what a chenin could be. I knew there would be sweet and some dry, but all the steps in-between delivered a range of floral, crisp, earthy, stone-like, and minerally notes. Sometimes the bright acidity would strike hard and fast on the tongue, other times it was a subtle tingle at the finish. Good work team! My tastebuds were startled, seduced, and surprised every step of the way.

Tasting a single varietal over and over again is a great way to build your taste memory, and to be able to pull that profile out of your storage bank of flavors from your brain. I highly recommend this method for someone who says "I don't like X varietal" since there is such a range, how can one discount the entire grape based on one try? If you still don't like Chenin Blanc after trying this dozen then maybe you have your case made.

From the Pacific Northwest:

 Division Wine Co's Kate Norris and Thomas Monroe were inspired by her Godfather's chateau in L'isle verte for their Chenin Blanc in the heart of the Loire Valley in France, and she tells me that "most people would be surprised to know, chenin pairs nicely with a big juicy pork chop". Also featured from Washington was Lobo Hills, whose 2014 Chenin Blanc from Roth Rock Farm made the Compass Wines Feburary 2016 publication "Top 5 whites of 2015". Also present was ORR Wines, and specs for their 2015 old vine Chenin Blanc can be found here. Lastly, Avalon Wine, Inc, whose "expertise is small production Northwest wines, coupled with hand selected wines from around the globe". 

From France:

Le Sot de l'Ange's Sec Symbole hailing from the Azay le Rideau AOC, which is only about 60 hectares in size, producing a cheeky label from a notoriously old world region. Savennières from Domaine du Closel,  which explained that this cuvée "remains in tanks for 9 months on the lees in total absence of oxygen". Chateau de Brézé Clos David, a Saumur white wine. La Lune, which is named for the crescent shape of the vineyard, earned 94 points from Wine & Spirits in 2012.

" In the 1600’s, the white wines of Château de Brézé were so well known that throughout Europe they were referred to as “Chenin de Brézé.” "  

From South Africa:

Secateurs, where "The vines are unirrigated and farmed as biologically as possible" M.A.N. Family Wines which is surprisingly an acronym for 3 women's names: Marie, Anette, and Nicky Luddite Chenin, made by The Luddites, who "apply a technology-resistant philosophy to their methods". Spice Route "With only a quarter of the land planted under vine, only the best soils  of the farm were chosen to plant suitable grape varieties"