It’s revered as delicious, renowned as a keeper in a cellar, and has a cult following. It’s also often declined or misunderstood, and is variable in style.
It is Chenin Blanc.
If your response is “Oh, Chenin, it’s been a while”, join the crowd. Chenin is not exactly common on restaurant wine lists, and is tucked down the back of the bottle store if it’s there at all. The supermarket might stock the occasional $15 bottle, but it will be an oddity. Chenin is not on the wish list of many wine drinkers, even though many of them respond to it as they do to Riesling − as long as they don’t see the label, they love the taste.
2017 Black Estate Chenin Blanc $45 This small North Canterbury winery makes minuscule amounts of bone dry Chenin Blanc from one row of the grape planted on the 12-hectare vineyard in the Waipara Valley. The style depends on the year. This one is a dry, deliciously savoury, super refreshing crisp white with a medium body and long finish.
2018 Amisfield Chenin Blanc $25 Yes, Central Otago does have a string other than Pinot Noir to its bow, as this refreshingly dry Chenin Blanc shows. It’s new and small in quantity but already expressively tasty.
2017 Mt Edward Chenin Blanc $29 Winemakers Duncan Forsyth and Anna Riederer released their first Chenin Blanc from 2017, making it a little like Chardonnay, putting the wine through a secondary fermentation – malolactic fermentation. This winemaking technique was used to deacidify the wine and soften its zesty core while retaining its vibrant freshness. It’s dry and it comes from the Morrison Vineyard. A mere 170 cases were made.