Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chardonnay vs Chenin Blanc

It’s always great to have a hobby, especially when it is a fairly unique one. Which brings us to our good friend and neighbor Kevin Rogers. While in California, Kevin picked up an index box of wine grapes so he could learn more about the grapes that are used in wines. But Kevin decided to expand that knowledge a step higher and actually drink a wine that was made from each of the listed grapes. And Kevin wasn’t satisfied with blends; he wanted to try wines that were made entirely from a single grape. That might not sound difficult, but it is when you consider that a lot of wine grapes are primarily used to blend with other grapes. Well it took Kevin about two years to complete his search for wines and we are going to be the ones to benefit from his quest for knowledge. I have asked Kevin to write about the wines and their grapes for our blog, and below is Kevin’s first installment on what I think will be a fun adventure!


Kevin’s Dueling White Grapes!

I have enjoyed picking a grape and then going out to find a bottle of that varietal (that is not a blend), but 100% of my chosen variety, drinking it in pure form and training my taste for it. I did this for forty different Grape Varieties and it made a nice hobby for about two years. I don't recommend everyone be so compulsive about their exploration, but I do guarantee that if you really focus on a particular grape of both the whites and the reds, you will become quite skillful in recognizing a wine grape by smell and taste, especially in contrast of one grape varietal next to another. Soon, you will see a grape variety posted front and center on a label, and you can know what that bottle tastes like (to a reasonable degree) before you open it.

Chardonnay grapes
The fact is, you are probably already at that point with the most popular varieties such as Merlot or Chardonnay, but I want you to follow me through an exploration of some of the less common varieties which I will describe in contrast to those Noble  varieties you know so well. All that to broaden your pallet, and improve your natural ability to discriminate between any two grape varietals. I am going to suggest a Noble grape and a less well known variety to drink side by side. To get this exercise kicked off, I will provide them both at the next Munger Porch Party and you can simply walk up and try both wines. This summer you will reach a new level of recognition skill that will make selecting a wine as simple as a reflex.

Chenin Blanc grapes
Let’s start with two white wines; one you know well, Chardonnay, and one you hardly recall or remember having, Chenin Blanc.

First, Chardonnay is the number one white wine world-wide and for good reason, it is the most amazing grape in its ability to please most people. It is on every restaurant menu and served at every party; it is simply the people's choice everywhere. But it should not be the default wine you automatically go to without consideration of some other whites out there. Chenin Blanc is a great consideration, less popular and less diverse in its application; it is otherwise a good wine and should be one we know well, so let’s contrast these two.  Again, I will provide you a glass of each at the next Munger Porch Party and discuss the merits of each. 

As you taste these two white gapes at the Porch Party, consider these classic characteristics of each:

You know the CHARDONNAY GRAPE as a product of the best all-around wines; diverse in every way but famously bold, silky, and delightful with notes and aroma of fruit. Try it first and then drink a splash of pure CHENIN BLANC to experience a grape with similar but slightly sweet fruit and a quick clean finish. Chenin buds early in the growing season and matures late. Expect a slight acidic quality. You will love them both and you can pair them with many of the same foods.  

And Now Lets Taste the Wine!



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1 comment:

  1. hello - thankyou for explaining about the chardonnay and chenin blanc varieties - have just been to a restaurant that did not have chardonnay! so tried SA chenin blanc - I liked it very much, my husband not so much - we would never have got to try it if the restaurant had stuck by the popular rule of stocking chardonnay, personally, I am now likely to choose the chenin blanc.