Archive for ‘Chenin Blanc’

December 31, 2018

Domaine Huet Vouvray, Clos du Bourg, 2015

Where to start?  How about magnificent?  How about exceptional?  How about demonstrably brilliant?

 

Huet is expensive, it’s a splurge for us, but every year Marquis on Davie gets a truckload and we pick up a few for the cellar.  We drank this too soon.  We couldn’t resist.  Yet it didn’t disappoint, not one iota.

 

The balanced fruit, a luscious caramel, sweetish without cloying, delicate but not lightweight, it defies description.  Three times as much as we like to pay for wine but worth every cent.

 

Price: Around $60 at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: A Christmas miracle.

December 22, 2018

Savennieres Chateau de Varenees, 2016

What an exceptional varietal.  You never know with Chenin.  Witness Vouvray.  The Huet socked away in the cellar.  And South Africa, so much to revel in.  But, alas, not so much this sere and abrasive assertive white.

 

Austere.  Could have been crafted by the Amish.  Simply too dry for our taste.  Really not that food friendly unless you’re eating rich, French rich, fish in butter rich, but if all you’re doing is drinking to cut the richness, a Coke will do.

 

Gismondi loved it.  It is of its ilk and like many whites you will come across in France but it was a non-starter for us, from sipping to accompanying food.

 

Price: No record, which leads me to believe it might have been gifted, as I’m rather fastidious about this sort of thing, although online $30 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: BC Liquor describes it as having “aromatic persistence.”  Hmm.  Could be a description of Febreeze.

March 2, 2018

Piekenierskloof “The Tea Leaf” Chenin Blanc Blend, 2016

We love our Chenin; French, South African, Australian, bring it on.  We wanted to love this.  Low alcohol, screw cap, high altitude vines.  Maybe our predilection for the varietal and relatively unrealistic expectations were too much for the W. O. Piekenierskloof, because for us it was a bomb.

 

Bruised fruit.  Dry, brittle dry, earthy, mushroom broth, lightly acidic, kumquat on the finish with a pasty, green, tarragon-ish herby note.  Not food friendly.  Dull as a sipper.

 

Perplexing, confusing, disappointing.  Despite the novelty of its remote high terrain and the rooibos growing in its midst.

 

Not balanced or terribly pleasant and unusual in a tiresome (as opposed to curious) fashion.  Much loved by the critics which is why we tried but it’s one strike and yer out with this.  Sorry W. O.

 

Price: $33 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar.

 

Market Liquidity: Like idling in a parking lot.  It’s middling.

December 16, 2017

Domaine Huet Le Mont Demi-Sec Vouvray, 2015

So a day or two ago we wrote about being let down by Champagne.  Which, to be honest, wasn’t fair to Champagne, it was more about the cost penalties of living in and buying wine in BC.  Most decent Champagnes in BC retail before taxes at around the $60 mark.  But here’s the rub: If you’re truly willing to spend $60 on a bottle of wine, why not go all out and get a Loire Chenin?

 

In December, when we pull out all the stops on decent bottles, we love to love Domaine Huet.  (The blog has a smattering of Huet posts including a 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2009, of various sorts and sites.)  We usually rip through a variety of the house, from sparkling on down (or up, as the price point goes and as our budget allows).  For a special day in advance of Christmas we pulled out the Mont Demi-Sec: and the semi-sweet is, well, rapturous.

 

Online I’ve seen reviews all over the map, so many adjectives I don’t know what the pros are thinking, it’s like they just wrote down words, maybe it was euphoria, but in a rare moment of total accord I would say the team over at WA hit the nail on the head when they described it as being “deep, rich and flinty on the nose, with caramel and vegetable flavors indicating a great complexity. Full-bodied, dense and powerful, this is highly complex and persistent, yet refreshing and transparent Chenin with a juicy fruit and lots of grip, energy and tension” and then blessed it with 96 points.

 

I would say, from the layperson’s view, if you can appreciate it, if you can even wrap your mind around how mind-numbingly harmonious this wine is, it is worth every penny of the $60 you will shell out.  And umpteen times more memorable than a bottle of Mumm.  Or, as we wrote recently, Moutard.

 

Price: $60 from Marquis.  God Bless Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: A trip to the moon on gossamer wings.

December 4, 2017

Cape of Good Hope Riebeeksrivier Caroline, 2014

Spectacular in its assertive diversity.  Some acidity on the tongue, juicy fruitiness like biting into a white fleshed peach, a toasty note on the finish, an orchard of nuance.  The vanilla is muted.  An uninhibited and delicious blend.

 

Mainly Chenin Blanc, but Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne round out the mix.  I can see this working in the Okanagan as well as it does in South Africa; someone in Naramata should give it a shot.  Food versatility through the roof. Not your Tuesday night house white (given the price point), but what a shame. Refreshing delectability.

 

Price: A rather steep $39 at New District.

 

Market Liquidity: Gobs of gorgeousness.

October 17, 2017

Swartland Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, 2015

The acidity hits you first.  Then a tsunami of tropical notes, pineapple, guava, passion fruit.  The finish is a creamsicle.  It’s astringent and rich together.  My God, I could drink a decent Chenin every day, but am clearly in the minority (if restaurant wine lists are anything to go by—CB is rarely on offer, certainly not in the “by the glass” section; you might see a Vouvray in a hoity-toity place but these dry workhorse whites, primarily South African, damn they are versatile and exciting).  With every glass we liked it more.  It was like a seduction.

 

Price: $31 at Marquis, a lot for a SA Chenin, but worth a half case if you can stomach the financial pain.

 

Market Liquidity: It grows and grows on you.  I mean hopefully not like Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.  But still.

August 21, 2017

Raats Original Chenin Blanc, 2014

Depending on whom you rely on for points accountability, this is anywhere between an 88 and 92 pointer, with the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator at opposite ends of the spectrum and Tanzer in between.  Which underscores more about how people think of Chenin Blanc than perhaps the subjective nature of wine scores.

 

It is indeed good, a refreshing and zesty lightly acidic Chenin with a dry forest floor note and some gobs of summer stone fruit.  We got the lime but not the pineapple.  It’s a patio sipper par excellence but a little weak at keeping up with rich foods (and I’m including creamy cheeses).  At the price point we are much more likely to spend less on the Mulderbosch and enjoy it more or spend more on the D’Orrance and wish we’d won the lottery.  It would be hard to weigh in on this as enthusiastically as some pros have.

 

Price: $21.85 in Saskatchewan but, wait for it, $33.50 before taxes at private wine stores in Vancouver.  Seriously.  When the mayor proclaims that Vancouver is on schedule to be the greenest city on the planet all I can think of is the greenback, not the solar panels, bike lanes, and lack of access to natural gas.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s a 92 pointer at $22 and an 88 pointer at $34.

April 13, 2017

Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc, 2015

Natalie Maclean loved this wine at $19.  Americans love this wine at a few dollars less.  And while I loved it too, I had to shell out much more.  Welcome to beautiful BC.

 

There is a marriage of apple (juice and cider and skin) with tropical notes, the softness of papaya, and a striking balance between those oddities that makes it zesty and like a palate cleanser mid-meal.  Over the top spectacular with a Thai meal.  Screw top to boot.

 

Price: $22 at Liberty before the overages.

 

Market Liquidity:  The Cold Crisp Taste of Chenin Blanc, to bastardize an old tagline.

March 6, 2017

King Shaka-Zulu Chenin Blanc, 2015

Pretty good but not pretty great.

 

Notes of clementine, an unusual and pronounced vanilla, a tangy acidity, refreshing floral herb slash butterfly garden, and a monumental minerality that persists on the palate.  I wouldn’t have guessed this as a Chenin blind but enjoyed it nonetheless.  Was superb with a cheese souffle.  As for Shaka-Zulu, check him out.

At a price point about 30 per cent cheaper, this would be a steal, a deal, a must buy.  Regardless of the pointster’s praise, at $30, it’s not exceptional value.  This bottle reminds me of the gorgeous Springfield Life from Stone which we swooned over in Cape Town at dollars a bottle then sourced it back home in BC at $33 in a private store where, as we emptied out wallet, we sort of lost our appetite and enthusiasm.

 

Price: $29.95 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Close but no cigar.

February 11, 2017

D’Orrance Chenin Blanc KAMA, 2012

dorrance-chenin-blanc-kama-2012

 

Poetry.

 

If you splurge once in a while on a wine simply because of critical praise, and then are disappointed, I hear your pain. Amen brother. We need to forge a twelve step critical disappointment program. But sometimes you dig deep into the wine budget and it pays off big time. Case in point this elegant, eloquent, Chenin that was like an encased jewel box, that just needed dusting off to show all it’s colour and dimension.

 

Of course Chenin is not to everyone’s taste; even in France, Loire whites are not as ubiquitous in the corner wine store as you’d expect. In South Africa, where they blossom, BC rarely gets an opp to experiment (it’s Bellingham and then things hit a chasm). But we sourced this bottle at Everything Wine and were suitably impressed. Five year old luxe white for around $40; sounds expensive but really that’s a bargoon considering the lay away.

 

Ludicrously delicious. A golden shimmer in the glass, toffee, apple, honey and honeydew hits the palate along with an oily nuttiness and some lighter minerality. Acidity that is pure pleasure. It is exquisite in its complexity and hugely intriguing. I have some Neem honey from the Himalayas and that sweet, blossom, funkiness is also in this wine. The oak is almost transparent (thankfully); in fact the oak is umami.

 

Price: Expensive in BC; a very unfortunate $43 at Everything Wine (but keep in mind this is the 2012, not the 2014). The 2014 is available in Saskatchewan for $23. That is plainly extraordinary value.

 

Market Liquidity: Controlled delirium if such a thing is possible.