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Dry white Chinon (chenin blanc)

Robert Lauriston Dec 25, 2006 07:04 PM

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.


  1. z
    zin1953 Dec 25, 2006 08:39 PM

    Oooh -- very cool. Have to try it!

    1. d
      DavidT Dec 26, 2006 12:58 AM

      How much a bottle?

      1 Reply
      1. re: DavidT
        Robert Lauriston Dec 26, 2006 03:11 PM

        I think list price is $19.

      2. hotoynoodle Dec 26, 2006 05:45 PM

        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. SteveTimko Dec 26, 2006 05:50 PM

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

          1. d
            DavidT Dec 26, 2006 08:22 PM

            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
              Robert Lauriston Dec 26, 2006 08:33 PM

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

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                zin1953 Dec 28, 2006 05:12 AM

                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.

                From http://www.chappellet.com/assets/2004...

                "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
                  Robert Lauriston Dec 28, 2006 05:58 PM

                  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
                    zin1953 Dec 28, 2006 06:40 PM

                    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.

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