Chenin Blanc (or often simply Chenin) is a widely grown winegrape variety, also known as Steen in South Africa, Pineau de la Loire in the Loire region of France. It is used to make white wines in a number of styles with or without some residual sugar. It is the favored grape of the Anjou region of France and, although naturally a hard, acidic grape slow to mature, is made into fine sweet wines that age well for a least ten years in the bottle. In the U.S. the grape all too often ends up in the generic jug wines of bulk producers as acidity enhancer for otherwise flabby high sugar/alcohol blends.
The finest Chenin wines have generally come from the Loire Valley region of France, where its versatility is exploited to great effect. The sweet wines made in exceptional years from botrytized vines are among the longest-lasting of all wines, and the great dry white wines of the region are again often listed among France's finest whites. It is even used to make sparkling wines, particularly in the wines of Saumur. In most cases, and certainly in the sweet wines, the grape is used unblended, though on occasion up to 20 percent Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc can be added. The region's wines are best exemplified by the appellations of Vouvray and Savennières.
Chenin is the most widely_grown grape in South Africa, accounting for around 30 percent of the country's vines. The wine made there is generally bland and acidic, often with overtones of grass or green apples.
CheninBlanc has flourished since the ninth century in its Central Loire homeland, on the highly calcareous, tuffa soils of Anjou and Touraine.
CheninBlancâ€™s tendencies towards green fruit characteristics with mineral notes and pronounced acidity traditionally lead to it being made into an off-dry wine, where residual sugar balances its high-acid nature.
CheninBlancâ€™s high-acid tendencies have made it popular in warmer than usual viticultural regions, like California and South Africa (where it is known as Steen), both of which easily eclipse total French plantings.
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