November 14, 2012

Appel on Wine: Relax and enjoy as each Chenin Blanc does its own thing

By Joe Appel

(Continued from page 1)

The Royal Old Vines Chenin 2012 ($12, Mariner). Most Chenin should steer Chardonnay drinkers its way. The Royal is for the Sauvignon blanc drinker: very steely and candied-lime, lighter weight, with gooseberry notes on the finish.

OK, back to the U.S., for L'Ecole No. 41 Chenin Blanc 2011 ($14, Nappi) from Washington's Columbia Valley. It's easily the most mineral non-Loire Chenin Blanc I've tasted, with loads of salt and lime bursting from the glass.

On the palate there's that classic light honey note, as well as distinct, surprising milk chocolate, sun-baked straw and upfront light brown sugar.

It's got more sweetness than the South Africans noted above, but also more minerality. That's good! And this wine is just a great example of how you can never take your eye off Chenin: It's always some of this and some of that, its story never utterly coherent.

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2011 ($12, Pine State). Standard-setting domestic Chenin, from Clarksburg, Calif. Dry Creek Vineyards makes several red wines I adore, but I'm especially enamored of a winery that pays as much loving attention to Chenin as they do, with direct inspiration from Vouvray. Like the Royal (and unlike the Badenhorst), this plays to the crisp-and-lively side of the aisle, brilliantly. It's even got that chalky texture so evident in the Loire Valley wines, and plenty of crisp fall apple.


Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog,, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at:


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