In general terms I tend to love the grape and the grain in pretty much all of their many magnificent guises. I have never really understood when people say things like ‘I don’t like red wine’, or ‘I don’t like Champagne’. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.
From a nostalgic point of view, my favourite grape would have to be the often ignored Chenin Blanc. During 1997 I headed off to Angers in the Loire Valley to study at a French Business School for a term. While there I was a much more dedicated student of the various appellations of the Loire Valley than any of the business classes. I diligently worked my way through all 87 AOCs ranging from the Muscadets of Nantes to the stunning Sauvignons of Sancerre.
It was Chenin Blanc however that captured my imagination. The sheer versatility of the grape is amazing from bone dry Savennieres, to the fantastic sparkling Cremants from around Saumur to the world famous sweet Coteaux du Layon and Vouvray vineyards. The scope of this grape is just incredible. At a tasting for the wine diploma last year we were lucky to taste the sublime ‘Huet Vouvray le Haut Lieu Sec’. Immediately I was reminded of how special this grape can be with its complex honey, brioche and nutty aromas. For a little while I was transported from a rainy day in Dublin to a care free time when my biggest worry was which wine to try with my goats cheese and warm baguette.
I hope that someday Chenin Blanc will have the renaissance that it deserves and that there will be a greater availability in Ireland of this classic grape variety.