Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

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Randall B.
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Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#1 Post by Randall B. » March 4th, 2019, 6:21 am

Would love to hear your thoughts. Especially interested to hear if folks think US Chenin has the range--sparkling, sweet, off-dry, dry--of its Loire forebears.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#2 Post by M. Dildine » March 4th, 2019, 6:38 am

Sandlands and Chalone old vine.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#3 Post by mattcitrang » March 4th, 2019, 6:46 am

I have to go with Sandlands also.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#4 Post by ybarselah » March 4th, 2019, 6:48 am

super impressed with Pax, and a very good deal too.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#5 Post by G. Bienstock » March 4th, 2019, 6:56 am

Rucksack, bone dry.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#6 Post by JeremyMullman » March 4th, 2019, 6:58 am

Paumanok on Long Island. Dry and consistently excellent. Believe they now do a few different bottlings tho I’m not sure how they differ.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#7 Post by David Cohen » March 4th, 2019, 7:04 am

+1 for Charles and Ursula's Chenin Blanc from Paumanok. I believe its the only chenin blanc from east end and its my favorite wine made on east end. Problem is its not priced like other chenin blancs (0-30 range if I recall)

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#8 Post by Todd F r e n c h » March 4th, 2019, 7:08 am

Haven't had many domestic Chenin Blancs but the old vine Chenin from l'Ecole is amazing
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#9 Post by Robert Dentice » March 4th, 2019, 7:16 am

Littorai makes a great one but it is very small production and overpriced at retail (not sure what it sells for from the winery).

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#10 Post by Nick Kra Mar Ski » March 4th, 2019, 7:16 am

I unfortunately don't have much to offer here, but this will be a fun discovery thread

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#11 Post by Tom DeBiase » March 4th, 2019, 7:20 am

Leo Steen Jurassic Vineyard is a favorite. Just had a bottle of the 2014 last night at The Brass Rabbit in Healdsburg and it was delicious. Leo also makes two lower priced Chenin Blancs from the Saini Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley and the Peaberry from Mendocino. The Peaberry is a fun Chenin, lots of energy and shows a savory edge.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#12 Post by Jim Stewart » March 4th, 2019, 7:40 am

I've enjoyed a couple from Division Winemaking. Portland OR made from 'old' vine Washington state Chenin Blanc.
Last edited by Jim Stewart on March 4th, 2019, 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#13 Post by M.Kaplan » March 4th, 2019, 7:42 am

Tom DeBiase wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 7:20 am
Leo Steen Jurassic Vineyard is a favorite.
...
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#14 Post by larry schaffer » March 4th, 2019, 8:07 am

There are a number of folks who make Chenin from the Jurassic Vineyard in Los Olivos - part of the old Firestone Vineyard for those who know the area. I know Field Recordings has been working with the fruit for quite some time as have others. Might be worth seeking out others working with it to compare/contrast.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#15 Post by Mike Francisco » March 4th, 2019, 8:16 am

I have been really liking most of what I have had from Haarmeyer.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#16 Post by Rich Brown » March 4th, 2019, 8:22 am

Another vote for Sandlands, and the Amador bottling in particular (2013 is easily the best domestic chenin ive eve had).

I REALLY need to get me some Leo Steen chenin to try.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#17 Post by Sean Malloy » March 4th, 2019, 9:04 am

M.Kaplan wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 7:42 am
Tom DeBiase wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 7:20 am
Leo Steen Jurassic Vineyard is a favorite.
...
Tom
+1
Another +1. The Leo Steen Chenins are excellent across the board. I mean, when you name your winery after a grape, you must care about it.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#18 Post by Matt A u s t i n » March 4th, 2019, 9:25 am

Jim Stewart wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 7:40 am
I've enjoyed a couple from Division Winemaking. Portland OR made from 'old' vine Washington state Chenin Blanc.
The Division Chenin is sourced from Willard Farms in the Yakima Valley, planted in 1980, which makes it pretty old by Washington standards. I'll be releasing a Chenin Blanc pet-nat this spring from the same site that I am pretty excited about. In the 90's there were over 600 acres of Chenin in Washington, but today there are only around 60. Virtually all of these are "old vines" in the Yakima Valley, planted in the late 70's/early 80's, and we can thank L'Ecole's Chenin program for preserving most of them. Erica Orr (Orr Wines) is another Washington winemaker who has been featuring Chenin Blanc and doing a great job with it.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#19 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 4th, 2019, 9:30 am

I keep trying, but still have not had a domestic Chenin Blanc that made me think it was actually worth buying. That includes trying most of the wines mentioned in this thread. Even the ones from wineries I otherwise really like have left me cold.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#20 Post by larry schaffer » March 4th, 2019, 9:34 am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 9:30 am
I keep trying, but still have not had a domestic Chenin Blanc that made me think it was actually worth buying. That includes trying most of the wines mentioned in this thread. Even the ones from wineries I otherwise really like have left me cold.
Wondering if this is because you feel that aren't 'as good' as ones you've had from outside the US or just that they have not been distinctive enough?

I do always wonder this with varieties that do well elsewhere and are not mainstream here.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#21 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 4th, 2019, 9:41 am

In general I find a lack of freshness, or when a wine is "fresher" it lacks aromatic depth.

Not every grape belongs in every place.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#22 Post by larry schaffer » March 4th, 2019, 10:28 am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 9:41 am
In general I find a lack of freshness, or when a wine is "fresher" it lacks aromatic depth.

Not every grape belongs in every place.
Agreed . . .
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#23 Post by Thomas Keim » March 4th, 2019, 11:09 am

I tend to buy South African Chenin Blanc when I am going New World -
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#24 Post by Wes Barton » March 4th, 2019, 2:00 pm

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 9:41 am
In general I find a lack of freshness, or when a wine is "fresher" it lacks aromatic depth.

Not every grape belongs in every place.
Could be a great degree of the old one-size-fits-all winemaking. A region long known for making great ones will have figured out the "tricks" for the variety and passed them on to subsequent generations. Winemakers here don't have that traditional knowledge as a starting point, and don't necessarily have it planted at the most apt sites or know how to farm it optimally.

That doesn't mean it can't reach the same heights here. Some grapes have done better here than their traditional homelands. Some may do equally, but different. We also see wines from less common grapes being rediscovered in their homelands and making wines that far exceed the traditional, due to modern knowledge and more open thinking.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#25 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 4th, 2019, 2:45 pm

No doubt. There are other grapes that have champions (e.g. Sam Bilbro with Cortese) who have unlocked the code.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#26 Post by Dan Sch » March 4th, 2019, 3:37 pm

I’ve really enjoyed the Lo-Fi Jurassic Park and the Roark Chenin Blancs from my trip this past fall. Otherwise Sandlands Amador has been my favorite so far.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#27 Post by Gary Schulte » March 4th, 2019, 3:44 pm

I'm in the Paumanok chenin blanc "like" category. From year to year they make a very enjoyable chenin that is right priced and down right delicious. In some years their "Minimalist" bottling is definitely a cut above from their regular bottling. My sense is that some of the west coast chenin blancs I have had seem to push higher alcohol and secondary fermentation which in my experience has not served this grape well in a wine form. Having grown chenin blanc for 6 years and making wines from it for 4 years is that not all the clones are created equal and that the ENTAV 982 clone carries more acidity. Would love to see more ENTAV clones make it here.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#28 Post by Joshua Kates » March 4th, 2019, 3:58 pm

Also a Sandlands fan--not quite Chidaine perhaps, but when it's on it can be very distinctive, lovely mouthfeel and aromatics, with good acidity and nice depth of fruit. Sometimes, for whatever reason I, too, have found it a little bit flat and muted, but when on, it's outstanding.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#29 Post by Dan Kravitz » March 4th, 2019, 4:03 pm

Chappellet has been growing excellent Chenin Blanc for decades. I don't see it much any more, but would not hesitate.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#30 Post by John Morris » March 4th, 2019, 4:04 pm

There was a winery in Sonoma -- Carmenet, I think -- that made some really stellar chenins back in the 80s and/or early 90s from very old vines. There was some change in ownership or marketing (Carmenet was owned by Chalone) and that wine disappeared. (Probably planted over to merlot or something obscene.)

Pine Ridge in Napa made a decent one, but I haven't had that in a couple of decades.
JeremyMullman wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 6:58 am
Paumanok on Long Island. Dry and consistently excellent. Believe they now do a few different bottlings tho I’m not sure how they differ.
David Cohen wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 7:04 am
+1 for Charles and Ursula's Chenin Blanc from Paumanok. I believe its the only chenin blanc from east end and its my favorite wine made on east end. Problem is its not priced like other chenin blancs (0-30 range if I recall)
I know lots of people like that, but I've always found it sort of nondescript.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#31 Post by Jared Wagner » March 4th, 2019, 4:07 pm

The Erica Orr Chenin Blanc Old Vines from Washington is a fantastic example of a sec version. Here is my note from the 16:

Popped and poured. Can't rave about this bottle enough. My second, and it was just as good as the first. Really wooly, funky, broccoli nose. Absolutely loved it. Would have never guessed a Washington Chenin Blanc. A little juicy and cheek puckering with the tart quince and ginger notes. Smoothed out with a touch of ripe pear. Terrific bottle of wine. 92pts.

Looking forward to the 2017!

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#32 Post by Ron Slye » March 4th, 2019, 4:08 pm

Thomas Keim wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 11:09 am
I tend to buy South African Chenin Blanc when I am going New World -
+1

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#33 Post by Michael Ferris » March 4th, 2019, 4:12 pm

Thanks for all the great recommendations. Chenin is really an underrated grape, which makes finding any wines, much less good ones, that much more difficult.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#34 Post by Nate Simon » March 4th, 2019, 4:23 pm

Kalin, Chalone are the best I’ve had. Mike Smith also makes a good one. Matthew Rorick also springs to mind. If memory serves, he made a sweet version a number of years ago that was quite intriguing. I would also give props to Craig Haarmeyer, who is making some nice restrained Chenin wines from the Delta.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#35 Post by Sean Devaney » March 4th, 2019, 8:00 pm

John Morris wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 4:04 pm
There was a winery in Sonoma -- Carmenet, I think -- that made some really stellar chenins back in the 80s and/or early 90s from very old vines. There was some change in ownership or marketing (Carmenet was owned by Chalone) and that wine disappeared. (Probably planted over to merlot or something obscene.)
I think you are remembering the Carmenet Old Vines Colombard Cyril Saviez Vineyard, a great wine. I don't ever recall Carmenet producing a CB. The Colombard vines are gone now and I can't remember who owns the property but last I heard there are some old vine zin still produced there.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#36 Post by jcoley3 » March 4th, 2019, 8:21 pm

Current release from Broc Cellars is pretty good.

+1 on Sandlands and Pax. Chappellet, too.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#37 Post by Gabe Berk » March 6th, 2019, 9:35 am

Chappellet, Sandlands, Chalone Old Vine and Pax in that order for me. Those dog days of summer in NorCal when its 100 degrees in August & September, Chenin hits the spot!!!

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#38 Post by jon leifer » March 6th, 2019, 6:51 pm

One more vote for Paumonok..As Gary pointed out, they make 2 different versions..my preference is for the basic Chenin as opposed to the Minimalist.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#39 Post by Seth L. » March 7th, 2019, 7:01 am

Another + for Sandlands, Leo Steen but want to also add a shout out to Kunin especially his skin contact Chenin
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#40 Post by John Morris » March 7th, 2019, 7:24 am

Sean Devaney wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 8:00 pm
John Morris wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 4:04 pm
There was a winery in Sonoma -- Carmenet, I think -- that made some really stellar chenins back in the 80s and/or early 90s from very old vines. There was some change in ownership or marketing (Carmenet was owned by Chalone) and that wine disappeared. (Probably planted over to merlot or something obscene.)
I think you are remembering the Carmenet Old Vines Colombard Cyril Saviez Vineyard, a great wine. I don't ever recall Carmenet producing a CB. The Colombard vines are gone now and I can't remember who owns the property but last I heard there are some old vine zin still produced there.
Oops. You're right.

Never mind.

But, man, that was an interesting wine!
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#41 Post by Blake Brown » March 7th, 2019, 8:06 am

Hands down: Fozen I'm surprised their's has not been mentioned herein [unless I missed it]. Its creamy, rich, as in cherimoya, tropical with kiwi, grapefruit, minerals and did I say, creamy and rich?
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#42 Post by Thomas Keim » March 7th, 2019, 11:15 am

Blake Brown wrote:
March 7th, 2019, 8:06 am
Hands down: Fozen I'm surprised their's has not been mentioned herein [unless I missed it]. Its creamy, rich, as in cherimoya, tropical with kiwi, grapefruit, minerals and did I say, creamy and rich?
Which is my problem with just about all the California Chenin Blancs mentioned. They all see oak - new oak - which I think destroys the fruit in Chenin Blanc. I do love the Foxen Chenin (and Chalone), but they remind me more of a Chardonnay then a Chenin Blanc.

And no love for any of the Clarksburg fruit Chenins? Dry Creek makes a million cases a year of a pretty clean Chenin Blanc -
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#43 Post by johngonzales » March 7th, 2019, 12:28 pm

Thomas Keim wrote:
March 7th, 2019, 11:15 am
Blake Brown wrote:
March 7th, 2019, 8:06 am
Hands down: Fozen I'm surprised their's has not been mentioned herein [unless I missed it]. Its creamy, rich, as in cherimoya, tropical with kiwi, grapefruit, minerals and did I say, creamy and rich?
Which is my problem with just about all the California Chenin Blancs mentioned. They all see oak - new oak - which I think destroys the fruit in Chenin Blanc. I do love the Foxen Chenin (and Chalone), but they remind me more of a Chardonnay then a Chenin Blanc.

And no love for any of the Clarksburg fruit Chenins? Dry Creek makes a million cases a year of a pretty clean Chenin Blanc -
I don’t drink much chenin and if I do it’s more often not-U.S.. In reality the two domestics that I drink most are simple, not expensive, crowd-pleasers. Dry Creek and the Pine Ridge Chenin with some viognier blended in. I think the Dry Creek is still around $14 and the Pine Ridge can be found under $10. Neither has any oak, which I prefer not to note if ai’m going Chenin. The Pine Ridge is super simple, even a bit sweet, but has some nice nuances and acid. On a hot day, as a cocktail wine or with food possessing a little heat, especially for a non-geek occasion, it goes down fine.

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#44 Post by John Morris » March 7th, 2019, 2:32 pm

I haven't tried it, but John Gilman just gave a very high (for him) score of 91+ to the 2017 Beau Rivage chenin from Clarksburg. He put a drinking window of 2019-2030+ on it. It's barrel-fermented and came in at 12.1%.

FYI, William Kelly of the Wine Advocate is a partner in that winery.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#45 Post by Jim Brennan » March 7th, 2019, 5:50 pm

Thomas Keim wrote:
March 7th, 2019, 11:15 am
Blake Brown wrote:
March 7th, 2019, 8:06 am
Hands down: Fozen I'm surprised their's has not been mentioned herein [unless I missed it]. Its creamy, rich, as in cherimoya, tropical with kiwi, grapefruit, minerals and did I say, creamy and rich?
Which is my problem with just about all the California Chenin Blancs mentioned. They all see oak - new oak - which I think destroys the fruit in Chenin Blanc. I do love the Foxen Chenin (and Chalone), but they remind me more of a Chardonnay then a Chenin Blanc.

And no love for any of the Clarksburg fruit Chenins? Dry Creek makes a million cases a year of a pretty clean Chenin Blanc -
I kind of feel like a winemaker who uses new oak on Chenin doesn't understand the grape...

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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#46 Post by Leonard Taylor » March 8th, 2019, 3:16 am

Dan Kravitz wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 4:03 pm
Chappellet has been growing excellent Chenin Blanc for decades. I don't see it much any more, but would not hesitate.

Dan Kravitz
+1
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#47 Post by Leonard Taylor » March 8th, 2019, 3:18 am

Todd F r e n c h wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 7:08 am
Haven't had many domestic Chenin Blancs but the old vine Chenin from l'Ecole is amazing
+1 l'Ecole CB is great.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#48 Post by J. Hayes » March 8th, 2019, 3:40 pm

I really enjoy the Chenin Blanc made by Jesse Katz at Aperture Cellars.
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Re: Favorite US Chenin Blanc?

#49 Post by Constance Savage » March 8th, 2019, 7:41 pm

J. Hayes wrote:
March 8th, 2019, 3:40 pm
I really enjoy the Chenin Blanc made by Jesse Katz at Aperture Cellars.
Thumbs up!
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