If I don’t have rosé in my glass this summer, and you spy me sipping something white, it’s probably the Sandlands Chenin Blanc. That’s why I was thrilled to see Eric Asimov’s column today and the nice mention and quote from Sandlands owner/winemaker Tegan Passalacqua.
I’m still getting to know the grape and reading Asimov’s story gave me a great introduction while also talking about its resurgence here in the U.S.
Chenin blanc, the white grape of the central Loire Valley, is one of those grapes achieving new life in the United States. Once widely planted in California, it had largely disappeared from fine wine regions by 2000. In the last few years, though, at least a dozen California producers have started making chenin blancs, joining a handful who never stopped, along with producers in Oregon and New York.
Because of its great acidity, chenin blanc is a grape able to make wines bone dry or unctuously sweet yet fresh, with an entire spectrum in between. It has the ability to transparently display its place of origin, to age for decades and to tantalize not just with complex aromas and flavors but with a seemingly paradoxical texture that can be thick yet delicate, rich yet light.
Most of what I’ve learned in the past year has come from the advocacy of Pascaline Lepeltier, the wine director at Rouge Tomate in New York, who gets a nice shout-out at the end of the column. It’s exciting to see that she’s working on her own project:
She has her own chenin blanc project: a plan to plant a few vines in the Finger Lakes of New York in partnership with Bloomer Creek Vineyard.