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Grape variety : Chenin blanc

The origins
of Chenin blanc

Chenin Blanc developed itself over time, but it was thanks to Thomas Gohier, Lord of Chenonceaux, that it gained its letters of nobility. He wanted to plant vines around his castle. Of course, it was not the only white wine variety he planted, but Chenin was the only one to adapt to Anjou soil and climate! Chenin Blanc reputation was born (Henri II loves it) and probably its name too. According to some historians, its name comes from the castle of Chenonceaux. For others, from the monastery of Mont-Chenin...
And it is in the 15th century, mainly in Touraine and Anjou that Chenin became the popular grape variety for white wines of the Loire. Even Rabelais speaks about it! In his book "La vie très horrifique du grand Garguantua" (Book I, chapter XXV) you can read: "And, with big Chenin grapes, spearing the legs of Forgier, so well that he was so much healed".
From then, his success never waned. The story goes that, chased away by Louis XIII, then by Louis XIV, Huguenots took Chenin with them and planted it in South Africa where it is known under the name of steen.

Vinification methods
of sweet and liqueur wines

In Anjou area we have a very particular, mild climate, which favors the development of a fungus: The “Botrytis”. Here is an illustration of a Chenin almost covered by “Botrytis”. The more the berry is affected, the more it dries out and concentrates in sugar and aromas. The juice obtained is extremely concentrated.
Another method named “passerillage”, consists in letting the berries dry out naturally on the vine stump. The water of the grape evaporates because it is exposed to the wind and the sun. The result is a concentration of sugars, acids and a strong and lively aromatic power.



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