Archive for ‘Chenin Blanc’

May 27, 2022

Edgebaston David Finlayson Camino Africana Chenin Blanc, 2015

Marquis had a spring cleaning sale and we picked up a bottle of this South African Chenin for a song.  Then we went back and bought four more. YOWZA.

It’s only May, but this feels like the white wine of the year.  It’s absolutely, totally, over the top sensational.  Not one bottle we’ve had this year, perpetual favorites, old reliables, new finds, nothing compares.  Of course it’s at its peak, you can’t hold onto it, it’s no Vouvray, it’s ready.  And boy is it ready.

A golden, smoky quartz in the glass, the nose is apple and pear, the palate caramel, quince and sage, it’s rambunctious, monstrously appealing, deeply complex, nuanced crossed with assertive, and 100% Chenin loveliness.

Honestly, we are shy of words to adequately describe the heights this bottle soars to.

Now, caveat emptor: The Chardonnay/Sauv Blanc crowd will not like it.  It is nothing like, zero in common with and no kin to the run-of-the-mill whites on the spigots at chain restaurants nor the bland, thin “house” whites the BC Okanagan churns out.  It’s unique, unusual, mysterious, and drop dead spectacular.  For the adventurous, highly recommended.  But hurry, this vintage will spoil.

Thank you Marquis.

Price: Marked down to $27 from $41. 

Market Liquidity: Come taste the wine, come hear the band, come blow your horn, start celebrating..

March 25, 2022

La Primera Rivancha Chenin Blanc, 2020

We like us our Chenin Blanc.

Like the simple Axle.

Like the not too easy to find old vines Bellingham. Which, you know, we liked before. And before.

And like the Le Parc.

Or just search Huet on the site; it’s awash with short shoves for Vouvray

So we had high hopes for this Argentinian offering that was 91 points over at Vinous.  The review noted “a lovely tension” and I’m never sure exactly what that means, having seen it so many times over the years.  When I’m tense I might bite my lip or tongue.  Or my muscles might ache.  Or I might be sitting on the edge of my seat, on the crack of my ass during the Wimbledon finals, so tense I scab up.  A lovely tension; huh. Reviews baffle me.

Despite the glowing reviews we found this unmemorable.  And not for want of trying; goodness, we have three more bottles to drink.  Very lime-citrus, earthy, and hints of the metallic French Chenin that costs so much more.  Not hugely food friendly. To dumb it down, it lacks some of the anticipated crispness you count on in CB.

Plaudits to Marquis on Davie for continuing to bring in novel wines and expand the limited BC horizons.  Discounts to boot.  But you win some, you lose some.

Price: $31 with a discount so more than reasonable for a Chenin.

Market Liquidity: It ain’t no Vouvray.  Just sayin’.

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April 12, 2021

Domaine FL Le Parc, Savennieres, 2015

Pure and unadulterated.

Decanter got it right, “best in show” like the title pooch at Westminster.  It drinks so precious you might feel a Faberge egg is being scrambled.  Striking on first taste, a short tropical note of coconut, some serious acidity, grapefruit pith, and a finish, extremely restrained, of melon.  Jackie O in a sweater set and pearls.

Chenin Blanc, in our view, is to die for.  My desert island white.  And no doubt this is a pinnacle of the Loire.  But it does drink just a tad, how can I put it? Elegant.  Sort of like arriving at a restaurant that requires a jacket and having to wear a club loaner; think Michael Bluth double dating at the country club in the size 44 large suit jacket.

Price: The best part of $50 at BC Liquor

Market Liquidity: Art house treasure (but, still, it’s art house).

December 25, 2020

2020 Wine of the Year: Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec Vouvray, 2015

From the cellar: Hands down the best wine we drank in 2020.  Wow.  Words simply aren’t necessary.

As a tradition, we open a bottle of Vouvray sometime in December, celebratory style.  Usually it’s a demi-sec, and more often than not it’s Huet.  The Wine Advocate gave this 2015 a comfortable 93 points, and in some semi-effectual way tried to describe its fruit aromas and subtle herbal aromas.  Unfortunately, their prose couldn’t match the majesty.  This was eloquence, diplomacy, mysterious, a John Le Carre, may he rest in peace.  The WA did write “”a very long and grippy, tension-filled finish” to which I would echo and say it’s Escher-esque.

Chenin Blanc is perhaps the most mysterious (or unpredictable?) of white grapes; it can be coarse and edgy, it can be cloyingly sweet, but it can also age into a deliriously good state.  Witness this spectacular vintage.  I wish we had more.  I wish we had more laying down. But be grateful for small mercies I suppose.

Price: In October 2017, $48 from Marquis, and so less than a bottle of Culmina’s Hypothesis.  Cin cin.

Market Liquidity: The weft and warp of the finest silk in a bottled beverage.

April 30, 2020

Bellingham Old Vine Chenin Blanc, 2017

Bellingham Old Vine Chenin Blanc, 2017

 

Lordy what a lovely find. Food friendly to the nth degree, a patio marvel, hardy enough for roast chicken gentle enough your fingers could be soaking in it.  Luscious on the palate.  Stoney minerality coalesces with citrus grove lands on creamsicle with muted oak on the tail.  Sips a dream.

 

You could look for it and not find it, which is most likely in BC, but if you do buy it, then buy it by the threes.

 

Price: $31 at Kitsilano Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: And the taste that was planted in my brain still remains, to do no justice to an old lyric.

February 21, 2020

Darling Axle Chenin Blanc, 2018

Darling Axle Chenin Blanc, 2018

Lively and rich, straw and lychee with a touch of the sweet of a custard apple.  A dreamlike 12.5% for lunch.  Wonderful depth on the palate as a sipper (a lingering lemon blossom finish) but superior in its food friendly versatility whether cheese, salad, cured meats or fish.  An unusual balancing act of heavyweight Chenin and Alsace-ish etherealness.  Plus you can call it darling.

 

Price: Kits Wine Cellar at $34 but “just over” $30 with a six bottle discount.

 

Market Liquidity: Easily as (or more) enjoyable as its (pricier) Anjou cousins.

 

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.