Originally from the Central-west of France, it spread very quickly in the Southwest. Along with Pineau d’Aunis and Béquignol grape varieties, it constitutes a sub-family of the Folloids.
Chenin Blanc or Pineau de la Loire (called “plant d’Anjou” in the 10th century): It’s a typical grape variety of the Loire (present as early as the 9th century) and established the reputation of white wines from the Anjou-Saumur and Touraine vineyards. It also produces great dry white wines in Savennières, Jasnières, Vouvray, Montlouis, Anjou, Saumur…
Furthermore, Chenin Blanc is used in the elaboration of sweet white wines (Coteaux du Layon, Quarts de Chaume, Coteaux de l’Aubance, Jasnières, Vouvray, Montlouis…) and the production of sparkling wines (Vouvray, Montlouis, Crémant de Loire).
It’s only cultivated in Southwest France in Entraygues (Aveyron) and in Fel (“Le Fel” in the commune of Enguialès – Cantal). Chenin Blanc is also present in Limoux (Aude).
Its vignes produce cottony white buds with pinkish edging and young fluffy foliage with tanned patches. Mature leaves are three to five-lobed with petiolar sinus in a slightly open lyre (harp) and a red petiolar point. Its bubbled dark green blades have a downy underside and ogival teeth. It has medium to large bunches with tight shaped ovoid grapes.
It is particularly susceptible to grey rot, powdery mildew and wood diseases and is a vigorous and fertile grape variety. It is characterized in Entraygues (Aveyron) by its dry white wine and its taste of “flint”.
The type of Chenin Blanc from Entraygues differs from that of the Loire Valley by long stalks with loose bunches, and ovoid grapes with pointed tips, hence its name “Tite de crabe” in the Landes. It’s also less sensitive to gray rot.
Chenin Blanc produces very fruity wines with a lot of bouquet, elegance, and always a good level of acidity. Generally quite lively and nervous, it can be kept for a very long time. The characteristic aromas of this grape variety are twigs, acacia flower, grapefruit, apricot, candied fruit, spices, and truffle.
Additional aroma found in Chenin Blanc wines are of bitter almond, grilled almond, pineapple, hawthorn, banana, bergamot, brioche, cocoa, camomile, cinnamon, honeysuckle, lemon, quince, pear compote, quince or apricot jam, candied date, citrus peel, spices, dried fig, white flowers, cut hay, broom, clove, mango, mint, honey, mineral, muscat, hazelnut, walnut, mineral notes, grapefruit, quince paste, white peach, white pear, apple, currant, liquorice, rose, tea, linden, white truffle, verbena…
If it’s well cultivated, Chenin Blanc can create excellent wines (especially on limestone and schist soils). These fine, full-bodied wines produce apple aromas with a fine, delicate acidity and supports aging well. In the Languedoc region, it’s authorized in Limoux for the production of sparkling wines.
Production area en 2018: 9 900 ha (24 463 acres)