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Dec 25, 2006 07:04 PM

Dry white Chinon (chenin blanc)

I had dry white Chinon for the first time this week, a 2005 Couly-Dutheil Les Chanteaux. Easily the best dry chenin blanc I've ever had--has the big, ripe fruit aromas and flavors of Loire dessert wines, good acid balance. Well worth seeking out. It's distributed in Northern California by Franklin. In stock at WINE in Embarcadero Center in San Francisco.

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  1. Oooh -- very cool. Have to try it!

      1. i am a huge fan of dry chenin blancs. they are delightful matches with seafood and lighter poultry dishes. lovely lush aromas and striking minerality striving through the center. make sure to purchase one with a label that says "sec", otherwise it will be off-dry.

        these also age beautifully, becoming decadent amber wildflower fields.

        another reasonably priced gem is from foreau, (actually a vouvray) distributed by rosenthal imports. and much higher up the price ladder are those from nicolas joly, like his coulee de serrant.

        1. 2005 sounds like a great vintage all over France. Sounds like a great opportunity to try wines outside of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

          1. Have any of your had the Chappellet Dry Chenin Blanc? Any comments on how it compares to the chenin blancs of the Loire?

            4 Replies
            1. re: DavidT

              No similarity. Chappelet uses a substantial amount of new oak.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I agree that there's no similarity whatsoever between a fine dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire (be it a Chinon Blanc, Savennieres, Anjou or other appellation), and the Chappellet, but I should think the use of oak is among the least of the differences.


                "Chappellet’s Chenin Blanc features estate-grown fruit blended with grapes sourced from an eight-acre vineyard in Saint Helena. The fresh fruit qualities and crisp acidity of the varietal are preserved through stainless steel fermentation and aging. Approximately 25% of the wine is barrel fermented and aged sur lie for several months in one and two-year-old French oak barrels."

                Making more of an impact, I should think the significant difference in soil between the volcanically-based Napa Valley and the chalky limestone-based Loire. Also, the Chappellet runs around 14.5 percent in alcohol (or more) compared to, say, 12.5-13.5 percent for Savennieres . . .

                1. re: zin1953

                  Actually the Les Chanteaux is 14%, but it's balanced by the intense fruit and good acidity.

                  Barrel-fermenting 25% in one- and two-year-old barrels and leaving it sur lie for several months is such heavy oak that to my palate it overpowers all but the most intense mineral qualities. It's as if Chappellet's winemaker were trying to transform it into a Cal-style Chardonnay.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    In the immortal words of Louis P. Marini, "You want wood? Chew a toothpick!"

                    Californa Chardonnay . . . 100 percent new oak, sur lie and full malo . . . yuck!(Generally.) But 25 percent and no new oak isn't all that intense . . . to MY palate. But this is exactly why, when it comes to wine, no one size fits all.

                    When it comes to Chenin Blanc, I prefer France. But if I must, then I prefer a wine like Vinum's CNW to Chappellet.