Domaine des Aubuisières, Vouvray sec 'Le Marigny', 2009
Wine blogging has its dangers. Fame can change a man, after all. Just joking. I mean it can add certain slight, and mostly pleasurable, pressures to your drinking habits. Instead of just going for what you know and like, you can feel that your wine choices should become a little more wide-ranging and interesting, to give people something new to read about besides the same old turf. So sometimes, it gets close to becoming a battle between the wines you feel like drinking and those you tell yourself you ought to be drinking - as in "I should explore more reds from northern Italy" or "I should be doing something for my asinine Burgundy project". In some happy cases, though, the conscious effort to explore a region turns into familiarity and something like love along the way. This has happened to me, or rather keeps happening to me, in the case of Chenin Blanc from the Loire.
From my own humble experience, chances are if you like Riesling, you will also like Chenin. These two grapes are not superficially very comparable as far as aromatics go, Riesling often going into a peaches dipped in petrol and held up in a salty sea breeze direction, whereas Chenin is often reminiscent of apples and pears, can be honey-scented, but also quite vegetal. Still, they're like people who have a lot to tell each other, because they seem to work on a similar principle: It's never just the fruit that makes the wine, it's the mineral layers and deeper structures beneath it. I keep reading that Chenin can be capricious and turn out very weak just as it can come out staggeringly good, but so far, I've been in luck fairly consistently. The obvious question vis-à-vis this dry Vouvray from the Domaine des Aubuisières, then, is this: Did the lucky streak hold out? Yes, thankfully: The trademark ripe apples in the smell (check), raw asparagus and Swedish cloudberries (and how I love those and can never get them). A heady mix, indeed. On the palate, slightly sweet (figs?), ripe and somewhat brown fruit, "brown" in this case meaning oxidised in a good way. If this sounds rather mellow, it isn't, because the Chenin minerality still gives it focus and tension. Beautiful and interesting white, to sum it all up. I half knew it would be.
Chenin Blanc can actually let you down - at least if you find yourself in a mediocre pub where the only acceptable looking wine is a cheap South African Chenin (please note I am not dissing SA here especially, it just so happens that most of the CB I find in London pubs is from there)... Leaving those aside I have been very lucky with Loire Chenin Blanc too, ever since you infected me with the bug.
I totally agree with your
I totally agree with your Riesling/Chenin comparison. They work by the same principle, with acidity balancing out the fruit. Have you ever tried sweet Chenin? Such as "Quart de Chaumes"? They age pretty well and when you have a sip, the similarity to Riesling becomes even more obvious. Cheers
In reply to I totally agree with your by Alex
Sweet Chenin? Have not yet had the pleasure, but it seems that should change rather soon. Thanks, Alex, for this new path to follow up.