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K&L Staff Recommendations
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A consistent, big-time winner in the value sweepstakes, the 2014 Chenin Blanc / Viognier is a blend of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier (145,000 cases produced) is aged totally in stainless steel, has malolactic blocked, and offers what consumers love – big, flowery, fresh honeysuckle and tropical fruit, a light to medium-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful purity, texture and a long finish. (RP)" (8/2015) K&L Notes: Grapes for this perennial summertime value were sourced from Clarksburg, in California's Central Valley. Seriously quaffable but not to be underestimated—five ... Read More »
Sourced from across the broad Western Cape region of South Africa, Radley & Finch offers this Chenin Blanc at an attractive entry-level price. Grapes were sourced from both bush vines and trellised vines primarily in the Agter Paarl and Swartland regions. Winemaker Thinus Kruger primarily utilized indigenous yeasts in a particularly slow fermentation to develop complexity. The result is a citrusy and yellow fruited profile with hints of spice and grain. It is ready to drink right now, but will fill out and add complexity for a couple of years.
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Free Run Steen Chenin Blanc has an attractive nose with fresh grapefruit and passion fruit scents that are well defined and articulate the variety with clarity. The palate is well balanced with crisp grapefruit and light honeyed tones, very harmonious with well judged acidity and a composed, quite elegant finish. This is an excellent Chenin Blanc. (NM)" (11/2015) K&L Notes: Winemaker's Notes: "We source our Chenin Blanc from selected vineyards in the Agter-Paarl region. The vineyards are all unirrigated and bush-vine (untrellised) that produce concentrated, ... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Juicy quince, pear and green melon flavors move along with a fresh floral edged finish. Open-knit and inviting now. (JM)" (9/2015) K&L Notes: Established in 1890, the Domaine Sylvain Gaudron is now run by the third generation of the Gaudron family. It comprises 59 acres spread out over 50 little plots. The soils are limestone-clay on a sub-layer of tuffeau. This is an incredibly affordable Vouvray that belies its meager price, delivering honeycomb, jasmine and quince aromas. In the mouth it's explosive, with crisp apple, Mirabelle plum, minerals and honeysuckle flavo... Read More »
This affordable, semi-dry white comes from Domaine Sylvain Gaudron, a family-owned domaine in Vouvray. Made entirely from Chenin Blanc grown in the region's famed clay and limestone soils, this version is fresh and elegant, with delicious quince and apple aromas and flavors and is an ideal partner for spicy Morroccan tagines and Southeast Asian curries.
92 points Wine Spectator: "Shows excellent cut from the start, with pear eau-de-vie and green almond notes guiding the salted butter, brioche, fig and green melon flavors. The mouthwatering acidity is deeply imbedded on the finish. Drink now through 2018. (JM)" (5/2013)
Inventory: San Francisco
Jancis Robinson: "Light but distinctive nose, honey and lemon character. Gentle, soothing sort of character, and genuinely dry (even at 12%). Very subtle, and pretty short, but a great lunchtime option, with a lovely savoury finish. (RH)" (10/2013) Vinous: "Bright gold with a frothy mousse. Pear and white peach on the nose, with complicating floral and spice qualities and a hint of orange zest. At once fleshy and dry, offering tangy citrus and orchard fruit flavors and slow-building spiciness. The finish repeats the orange note and leaves a strong spicy quality behind. This impressi ...Read More »
The Champalou family farms 22 acres in Vouvray, making the Cuvée des Fondraux from 45-year-old Chenin vines grown in the area's prized clay, limestone and flint soils. Like all of their wines, it is distinctive, with incredible balance and energy ... a true representation of the soil. A great value.
Vinous: "Vivid gold with an aggressive bead. A complex bouquet of ripe apple, pear and quince, with honey and beeswax nuances. Distinctly chenin blanc in character, offering dried orchard fruit and bitter lemon qualities and a strong mineral undertone. A touch of marzipan adds depth to the dry, stony, precise finish. This will be very flexible with rich fish or poultry dishes. (JR)" (5/2010) Wine Spectator: "Alluring, with ginger, quince and maple hints allied to a soft, brioche-filled palate. The friendly, open-knit finish has an off-dry hint. (JM, Web-2010)" K&L Notes: Produced from Chidaine... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
93 points Wine & Spirits: "Xavier Weisskopf makes this wine from his youngest parcel of vines—30 years old—grown in silex and clay. Pascaline Lepeltier of NYC’s Rouge Tomate called this “a chenin for guys who like extra-brut Champagne—super lean, pristine.” That clean precision of chenin on silex captures the breadth of the vintage and cages it, slowly releasing stony minerality, a tart flavor of yellow apple skin, a spicy floral note of white flowers. This is a powerful young wine that won’t be ready to drink for five years or more." (4/2016) Wine Spectator: "This offers bright-edged peach, quince ...Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Easy and mouthfilling. Tangy and definitely Chenin. A great introduction to New Wave South African wine!" (9/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Secateurs Chenin Blanc has a slightly waxy, toffee apple-scented bouquet that perhaps lacks the complexity of some of the other vintages that I have tasted in the past. The palate is nicely balanced, quite primal in the mouth at first but settling down later on with lime cordial and peachy notes that deliver plenty of flavor. (NM)" (11/2015)
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "The aromas draw you in with notes of kiwi, pineapple and mango. Brown sugar and tropical fruit flavors are intensely sweet and rich, with an unctuous feel." (11/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The dessert-styled 2014 Red Mountain Chenin Blanc (which was harvest from frozen grapes on the vine) has lots of overt sweetness in its white peach, apricot and honeyed bouquet. This gives way to a pure, clean and well-made dessert wine that comes up a little short on acidity, and I liked the first sip better than the last. It is good, but best consumed over the coming year. (JD)" (6/2015)
Vines planted in primarily schist soils but with a bit of quartz and just a touch off sand as well. Quite an explosive wine. Full of ripe crunchy apple along with layer after layer of honeyed tea and roasted nuts. A definite candidate for the cellar. Or, even just having a glass a day over a week long span to see how this slow evolver will change. I put this into the Savennières powerhouse category. (Eric Story, Loire Buyer)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chenin Blanc is matured in used barrels for around ten months, undergoes a little SO2 and bottled. It comes from two vineyards. It has a phenolic bouquet, a little resinous with honeysuckle and jasmine, a touch of warm gravel. The palate is medium-bodied with a fine line of acidity, but this is more about texture than fruit with hints of ginger and lemongrass towards the finish. Drink over the next 5-8 years. (NM)" (11/2015) K&L Notes: Thinus Krüger, CEO / President / Winemaker / Grape crusher / Sole employee of FRAM, brings us these remarkable "wines of exp... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Savennières Les Petites Gorgees ("pg de Damien“) is a full-bodied, aromatic, ripe and elegant Chenin Blanc that is rich and salty and nicely balanced, displaying attractive honey aromas as well as refreshing lime flavors in the delicate finish. It is a clear, fruity-mineral, well-balanced and accessible wine for early consumption, but it can also age for several years. (SR)" (10/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright yellow. Smoky aromas of hazelnut, linseed oil and crushed white pepper on the nose. Fresh, clean and tightly wound, with firm acid structure giving focus to t ...Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Perdeberg and Kasteelberg. Spring herbs on the nose. Off-dry impression but with enough acidity. Good tang, this would be a fab house wine. (GV)" (9/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Only recently bottled, the 2015 Kloof Street Chenin Blanc comes from 40-year-old vines. Part of the fruit was matured in stainless steel, as it was done in 2014 for the first time. It has a perfumed pine cone and fennel-tinged bouquet that gently unfurls from the glass. The palate is well balanced, perhaps a little fatter than previous vintages with a fine line of acidity, direct pear, peach skin, and f ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "It has an appealing, lightly honeyed bouquet with touches of nectarine and yellow flowers. The palate is well balanced with a pleasant honeyed texture, a little lower in acidity than its peers (despite being picked earlier) with a waxy-textured finish...there is fine length and sheer drinkability here. (NM)" (11/2015) K&L Notes: The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard high in the mountains of Clanwilliam, 25 miles from the sea at 1600ft elevation. Dry farmed, as there is no longer any water available, these 50 +/- year old vines produce a mere 2.5 tons per hect... Read More »
Maison Huet has been a leading force in the Vouvray appellation for quite sometime now, and today is regarded as one of the premier producers of Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley, if not the world. Founded in 1928, the estate now covers 35 hectares, which are divided up between three properties — Le Mont, Le Haut-Lieu and Le Clos du Bourg — all that have been farmed biodynamically since 1990. These wines are stunning and are worth being in your cellar. In addition to its famous vineyard-designated wines, Huet also produces this delightful sparkling Pétill... Read More »
Winemaker's Notes: "Expressive fresh, tropical fruit flavour with well structured minerality. Youthful, friendly and inviting, this wine is ready to be enjoyed now. Sirkel encapsulates our dream of fulfilling our mission to be custodians of earth and guardians of man, caring for what has been entrusted to us. This wine completes the full seasonal circle by giving back to the land and the people committed to its creation. Grapes are hand harvested before being de-stemmed, crushed and pressed. Spontaneous fermentation turns the juice into wine, with minima... Read More »
Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who ... Read More »
This "new California" Chenin Blanc was listed in the San Francisco Chronicle's "Top 100 Wines: The Best of the West Coast in 2014." Since-departed wine critic Jon Bonné explained this wine's appeal in this tasting note: "Winemaker Craig Haarmeyer preaches 'Sacramento terroir,' and this taps nearby Clarksburg’s best-known grape for a profound barrel-fermented Chenin. Austere on one side, almost like crushed oyster shells, but then revealing the grape’s full, funky apple-pulp side, with maitake mushroom and green olive accents, and a wonderful fullness to ... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Old Vine Chenin Blanc comes from three vineyards between sandstone and granite soils, the former lending the weight and the latter, the freshness. It is raised 30% in oak and 70% in stainless steel for nine months. It has a tightly wound nose at first, with subtle quince and yellow flower, Mirabelle scents that take time to unfurl. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity, rounded and voluminous on the entry and then curving in from both sides on the pretty, white peach and Mirin tinged finish. This is very classy. (NM)" (10/2014) 90 points Vinous: "(from vine ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "This wine offers a fresh, almond and white flower-laced nose and a lively, earthy, and chalk-packed flavor profile. This refreshing sparkling wine is sure to bring a smile to readers' faces on hot summer afternoons. (RP)" (6/1998) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light gold with tiny bubbles. Subdued aromas of orange zest, lemon, dried pear and honeysuckle. Broad but energetic citrus and orchard fruit flavors are complemented by anise and honey, giving the wine an impression of richness as well as vivacity. The persistent finish repeats the honey and floral notes and clings nicely. This i ...Read More »
La Capitaine is a family-run winery that farms 27 hectares of the glorious Chenin Blanc grape. This sparkler made in the Champagne method shows a beautiful floral nose that leads to fine, elegant bubbles and a zippy finish. It's a festive wine for parties, but would also make a great accompaniment to a spicy Indian curry.
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Cartology Bush Vines is Chris Alheit's fourth release since it blazed onto the South African scene. It comes from the same vineyards as previous vintages. Chris said this is completely unfined and unfiltered with a very healthy pH. The nose has a sense of confidence about it, racing out of the blocks with orange zest, honeysuckle, jasmine and a touch of loganberry. The palate is lightly honeyed on the entry, beautifully balanced with a fine line of acidity, gently building in the mouth towards a complex, absorbing finish of lychee, white pepper ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The most recent release of Moulin Touchais (for more about whose unusual operation, see my report in issue 172) is a 1996 Coteaux du Layon that illustrates the striking combination of mineral and nobly sweet characteristics that were possible in this unusual vintage, though its notoriously high acidity is scarcely noticeable thanks to the balance lent by high sugar and the harmony conveyed by time in bottle. Alkaline and wet stone aromas here approach the effect of sticking one’s head down a moss- and algae-covered cistern, accompanied by scents of lily, ...Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "This chenin’s broad flavors of quince paste have a fresh lanolin note. It’s bold and juicy, with sweetness cut by slightly starchy acidity, the wine’s youthful tension needing bottle age to mellow." (4/2016) Wine Spectator: "A forward style, with candied ginger, dried pear, quince and chamomile notes that are threaded together nicely. Lingering mineral edge through the finish. (JM, Web-2016)"
The Bretons have been farming their eleven hectares biodynamically since 1994. Pierre is the primary cellar master, but the wines under the "Dilettante" label are the pet projects of Catherine. This Vouvray sec is grown on 40 year-old vines, and treated with exquisite care: hand harvested, native yeast, low sulfur, low yields. From the winery: "Dry white wine, fresh and ripe from a ground of clay with flints. The happy medium of the minerality of the terroir, the acidity of the wine and the grape's ripeness."
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Coulée de Serrant is a small AOC located within Savennières and is only about 17 acres in size. Originally planted by Cistercian monks back in 1130 the average vine age is between 35-40 years of age with the oldest being around 80 years old. The dense red schist soils give this wine its renowned concentration, structure and power. The winery converted over to biodynamic farming back in 1980, before it was so hip, and they are committed to bottling a natural "wine-of-place". This is one of the most powerful wines of the world. Cellar for 10+ years or deca... Read More »
Viticulture and winemaking are done in a classical style at Domaine Laffourcade. The Chenin Blancs of Savennières are exclusively made in a dry style, and this example is a reliable winner for its expression and value. Vines averaging 20 years old are planted in sandy schist soils where they are harvested manually to modest yields. The juice is slowly fermented to preserve fresh aromatics and the wine is aged in tank on the lees before bottling.
90 points Vinous: "Green apple, pear and subtle hints of earthiness mesh together in the 2014 Chenin Blanc Jurassic Park Vineyard. Soft and open-knit, the 2014 is quite pretty today. Partial aging in steel, along with the blocked malo style, keep the flavors bright. (AG)" (8/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another solid white from this estate, the 2014 Chenin Blanc Jurassic Park Vineyard was brought up in a combination of stainless steel and neutral French oak. It sports a very light color to go with light, yet crisp and attractive notes of citrus, peach and mineral water. Light bodied, well-made and ...Read More »
96 points Wine Spectator: "Unctuous, concentrated and refined, this holds a large core of quince, creamed Anjou pear and white ginger notes in reserve for now, while heather, chamomile, orange blossom and white peach flavors take the lead. When the reserves stretch out and catch up with the floral accents, this will be a pure, precise stunner, with a long life. Best from 2018 through 2035." (8/2013) 94 points Wine & Spirits: "Glistening in golden hues, this chenin draws you in with its broad, luscious fruit then pounces with searingly fresh acidity and grape skin spice. Luxurious as a young wine, this integra ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Pithon’s golden-colored 2011 Savennières Schistes has an extremely smoky aroma with fennel and other herbal flavors and concentrated fruit aromas of apricots. Powerful and full-bodied on the palate this is a profound, very mineral, juicy, always smoky Chenin with a piquant acidity and a persistent salty, very well structured finish. This is a thrillingly salty wine that should age at least for 2 or 3 years. The potential is very good. (Curiously it reminds me a bit of the wines of Matassa and Gauby from Calce/Roussillon where Jo’s brother Olivier runs th ...Read More »
This Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley comes from 50+ year old vines in a vineyard that follows organic and biodynamic farming principles.
Chenin Blanc from vines planted in 1991 in limestone soil. Manual harvest, followed by slow pressing and fermentation with natural yeasts. Aging on the fine lees in concrete eggs.
Winemaker's notes: "100% old-vine Chenin Blanc (planted in 1968). Grapes pressed and juice settled overnight, then racked off the lease. Spontaneous/natural, single fermentation at 14°C until 35g/l residual sugar, when the fermenting juice is bottled under crown cap, slowly continuing fermentation in bottle. Aged on the lease in bottle for 14 months, followed by hand riddling, degorging of the lease and corking. Every process is aimed at turning beautiful, fresh juice into wine with no additions of any sort to give this very natural wine in which the bub... Read More »
89-91 points Vinous: "The 2014 Chenin Blanc, which emerges from 50 year-old vines, is rich, phenolic and intense to the core, with a real sense of apricot/peach pit character that dominates. Sweet floral and spice notes add nuance as the wine opens up, but the Chenin remains quite structured and intense, at least today. This is one of the most distinctive Chenin Blancs readers will come across. Proprietors Bill Wathen and Dick Doré are at the top of their game... These are some of the most expressive, singular wines being made in Santa Barbara County today. (AG)" (6/2015) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "One o ...Read More »
92 points Vinous: "Very pale peach skin color. Fresh melon and nectarine aromas are complicated by cream, lanolin and honey. Fleshy and smooth, showing a pure, bright orange quality and toasted wood nuances and then picking up nervier lime notes on the back of the palate. Suavely blends depth with vivacity and finishes with excellent clarity, balance and mineral persistence. While this property has long belonged to the Counts of Colbert, it was only with the arrival of Arnaud Lambert that the reputation of Château de Brézé began to rise. After studying in both Bordeaux and ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
Wine Spectator: "This has an alluring, honeyed feel, with heather, ginger and warm hazelnut notes leading the way for creamed yellow apple and quince flavors. Toasted finish, with a lingering hazelnut husk hint. For fans of the style. (JM, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: Winemaker's Notes: "The Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc was pressed in a wooden hand press, allowed to settle in tank and taken straight to used oak barrel where the wine was naturally fermented and nothing added. This natural and minimalist winemaking approach allows Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc to be a true representation of the te... Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Cool, creamy and restrained. Tighter, and tastes drier than the Clos de la Bretonnière. Silky and intense but elegant too with ripe pear and apple hints. Deep and subtle rather than broad or fat. (JH)" (1/2016) K&L Notes: From a rising star of the Loire Valley named Jacky Blot, who started his career as a wine broker. Over the years he's put together 12 hectares of ancient vineyards in Montlouis, Vouvray and Bourqueil, acquired from families who could no longer care for them. This was grown on a south-facing monopole that faces directly to the Cher River. The top soi... Read More »
Salty, chalky, dry, herbally, concentrated; I can go on and on about this wine. One of the more unique and inspiring Chenin Blancs tasted of late. A stunning powerhouse of a wine. Coteau des Treilles is a steep (30-70% slope), south facing, bio-dynamically farmed monopole vineyard made up of schist and volcanic soils. The wine spends 10-12 months in Burgundy barrels, 90% used and 10% new. 370 cases produced. (Eric Story, Loire Buyer)
Inventory: San Francisco
Jancis Robinson: "Just off dry. Tang and grit and honey. Real substance. (JR)" (6/2013) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A beautiful, dry, flowery, crisp, honeyed Chenin Blanc, this 2010 Vouvray Sec Tendre exhibits vivid, exotic tropical fruit notes, good acidity and lots of minerality. (RP)" (2/2012) Wine Spectator: "Fresh, unadorned style, with a floral frame to the light-bodied persimmon, pear and green almond notes. Shows good dry cut through the finish. (Web Only—2012)"
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Jancis Robinson: "Golden orange colour. Unusual nose: chamomile, hay and apricots. Honeyed and gorgeous on the palate. I'd love to try this with some hard cheeses. Silky texture, viscous but no heaviness." (10/2014) K&L Notes: Les Rouannières, perhaps the finest, firmest, slowest-to-evolve and longest-lasting of all Papin's moelleux, is from very meagre, superficial soil whose base is the volcanic rock spilite. The soil is so superficial it cannot be plowed: it would erode and disappear. So instead, the Papins plant grass, which serves to keep the soil from eroding, competes with the ... Read More »
Some would call this pétillant naturel méthode ancestrale, which is loosely the same thing: a sparkling wine made in bottle with its native yeast and without any sugar additions (no chapitalization during initial fermentation, no sweet yeast liquor added for secondary in bottle, and no sweet dosage at disgorgement the bottles are simply topped off with the same wine and corked). Indeed, Originel is made without any additions or modern interventions of any kind. It is absolutely natural, a requirement enshrined by its makers and, as of 2007, by law for Pé... Read More »
Maison Huet is a leading force in the Vouvray appellation. Founded in 1928, the estate now covers 35 hectares, which are divided up between three properties: Le Mont, Le Haut-Lieu and Le Clos du Bourg - all of which have been farmed in the biodynamic method since 1990. Stretching over 9 hectares, Le Haut-Lieu provides extremely deep limestone and brown clay soils. Due to the heavy soils the wines from this site tend to have a richer rounder character, with deep nuances of stone fruit and finish off with a mouthwatering, juicy finish.
Inventory: Redwood City