Chenin Blanc From Three Places

Chenin blanc is one of my favorite grapes, with a singular texture and a rare versatility. It’s capable not only of transparently expressing the qualities of different terroirs but of making bone-dry wines, succulently sweet wines and a whole range in between. For all its abilities, chenin has not spread through the world like, say, riesling, its peer in versatility among white grapes. Is this because, like nebbiolo, the great red grape of northern Italy, chenin blanc simply does best in its home territory? Or is it an issue of marketing? That is, few authorities in late 20th-century wine history spent much time extolling its virtues. That has changed some in recent years. Pascaline Lepeltier, for one, a partner in Racines NY and a world-renowned sommelier, has been an apostle of chenin blanc for most of the past decade. As her influence in the wine world has grown, she has helped chenin blanc find more of an audience. Ms. Lepeltier grew up in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley, which, along with the Touraine region nearby, accounts for the areas in which the greatest examples of chenin blanc have been made. It also does wonderfully in South Africa and once was popular in California.