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Chenin

chenin

Name and Etymology:
Chenin seems to come directly from the French “dog” and probably refers to a forest origin or character.  Another hypothesis tends to link the name of the vine to Mont Chenin in Touraine which is also quite likely.

Synonyms:
The synonymy is as strong in the South West as in Val-de-Loire, land of predilection of Chenin.  Chenin carries the name of Couefort or Qué Fort in Gascogne referring to its bunch’s peduncle which is strong and hardy.  It is worth noting that the term Quéfort is still found in New Zealand today.  It is also called Rougelin in Aveyron because it was preferably cultivated on red soils (presence of iron oxide in the soil).  In the Landes, it has taken the name of Tite de Crabe meaning in true French “goat’s udder”.  This denomination undoubtedly comes from the rather big bunch of grapes and the prominence of mucro at the berries’ extremities.

Colour:      White

Geographical origin:
Due to its ampelographic characteristics and our obvious chauvinism, we are brought to state that Chenin seems to have found its roots in the South-West of France.  It’s from the atlantic ports of Capbreton, Messanges or Bayonne that it may have migrated at the same time as Cabernet France towards the Loire estuary.  It may have found a good sounding board there and been easily adopted by winemakers going up the Loire.  Besides, the latter claim the paternity of this vine.  The truth is perhaps half-way!

Filiations:
Chenin can be considered as belonging to the sub-family of Folloides.

Appellations using it and / or major areas of production abroad:
Chenin is today a worldwide known vine.  In France, it is one of the principal vines of the Val de Loire appellations.  Paradoxically, it has been little cultivated in the South-West, the other vines being less prone to rot and therefore overshadowing it.  We still find it today in the Entraygues vineyards and Fel and also in the Limoux area.  It is worth noting that the Chenin cultivated in the South-West is rather different morphologically from the one of Val de Loire, which is explained by the fact that the two populations had to develop independently from a distant common source.

Potential production:
Chenin is a vigourous and fertile vine.  The creation of fine wines is therefore owed to strong winemaking constraints.  It is very prone to grey rot but in good conditions and on sunbathed and windy slopes it can give sweet wines shaming a large number of great internationally recognized syrupy wines.

Best examples / Oenological potential
It is necessary to admit that the best examples of Chenin are found in Val de Loire.  There, the variations in dry or sweet wines are exceptional from both an aromatic and taste point of view.  In the South-West, it gives air-light and fruity wines with mineral chalk or gunflint notes.

 

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