Photo by Tom Arena
Chenin Blanc is a chameleon. Dry, sweet or sparkling, it excels in all three styles. And there are three distinct areas for high-quality Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley, where it can make some of the finest examples that exist. In Touraine, lay the twin appellations of Vouvray and Montlouis-sur-Loire, close to the city of Tours, the capital of Touraine. Further west, in the Anjou-Saumur region near the city of Angers, capital of Anjou, is the Coteaux du Layon, home to some stunningly, intensely sweet and soft drier wines. Finally, at the limits of Anjou, before it transitions into the Atlantic vineyards of Muscadet, is the small, tightly drawn dry wine area of Savennières.
The dry whites of Savennières are among the most ageable white wines around, with aging potential of 10–20 years. The same goes for the luscious wines produced in Vouvray, Montlouis-sur-Loire or the Coteaux du Layon. Chenin Blanc forms the base of a sparkling Vouvray and is blended into the sparkling wines of Saumur. All of these can be complex, mysterious in their transformations and beautifully memorable.