Chenins have a freshness and zippiness that makes them fantastic with mussels, oysters and other seafood

P16 Winesupp Dec06

Chenin with chips? Well, not quite for though the acidity in many chenins would cut through your average tub of English lard, for a good chenin, the best companions are always likely to be with seafood. They will have that lovely freshness and zippiness that makes them fantastic with noble crustacea such as crab or lobster and a real delight with bivalves like mussels or raw oysters. Not many chenins have the fruit intensity to help balance out richer fish dishes, though they can cope quite well with light creamy sauces. They also go well with peppered or spicy dishes like Thai green curry – again because of the acidity and a slight sweetness to help counter balance the heat of the spice.

P16 Winesupp Dec06

Cheat Sheet

Age-old vines
Chenin was planted in France as early as the 9th century in the Anjou region of the Loire.
Dutch courage
The chenin blanc vine was brought to South Africa in 1655 by Dutchman Jan Van Riebeeck, who is credited with having established the South African wine industry.
Triple jump
South Africa now has three times as many hectares planted to chenin blanc as in France and, the grape’s homeland.
Best from France
Look for Vourvray, Samur, Anjou Coteaux du Loir, Savennieres, Montlouis, Quarts de Chaume.
Gout-Fort (roughly translated as strong taste), Cou-fort (which sounds like a French swear word), QueFort (sounds like Manuel from Fawlty Towers on holiday in France) and Franc-Blanc (which sounds like every French man I’ve ever asked for directions)

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