Do You Know Chenin?
A great bottle from the criminally unheralded grape.
2012 Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc ($25)
A lot of white wines are described as tasting “honeyed”: viognier, some new-world chardonnay, roussanne from France’s Rhône Valley. But for me, no grape captures the essence of artisanal honey—not the sickly sweet stuff that comes in a plastic bear—than chenin blanc.
South Africa produces nearly twice as much steen (what they call chenin) as France and while much of it is forgettable, when it’s on point like this wine—honey-roasted nuts mixed with nasturtiums—it represents very close to the grape’s pinnacle at an altogether reasonable price.