Updated: Aug 28, 2020
If Chardonnay & Chenin Blanc get into a cage match...who ya rooting for?!
I often refer to chenin blanc as chardonnay's tropical cousin. It has distinctive aromas of fruit we associate with warmer parts of the world, while possessing the chameleon like capabilities of chardonnay-----meaning it can be grown almost anywhere with little to no trouble. Add that to a wide range of stylistic interpretations, and you have a wine that acts as the perfect alternative for drinkers of chardonnay.
This grape varietal has a spiritual home in the Loire Valley where it is produced in many styles (off dry, sparkling, sweet). Over the years chenin blanc has become South Africa's flagship grape. It is locally referred to as "Steen" in South Africa---a nod to the country's early colonization by the Dutch. I chose the "Alleypack" Chenin Blanc from Radley & Finch to showcase this varietal. The wine has bright overtones of pineapple & star fruit, with a round acid that leaves you sipping for more. A quintessential iteration of chenin blanc if there ever was one. Plus, I'm obsessed with this producer!
Low acid white wines like this chenin blanc are safe bets when pairing them with food. They've got enough going on to make the pairing work, but are rarely overpowering. Try this wine out with seafood, curries, middle eastern cuisine or shrimp dumplings for fun pairings that'll leave you floored!
Fun Fact: The Radley & Finch labels are inspired by the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird".