Happy Sunday evening, my fellow wine enthusiasts! I have successfully completed my first week of the winter quarter, and that is a feat in itself! The weather has been dreadfully cold here in Spokane, as this weekend high did not get much above 20* F. While most everyone in the wine world was warming up with various red varietals, I found myself oddly craving something white… perhaps in an attempt to summon summer weather. Or at least summer-like thoughts, which in itself can be enough to cheer anyone up! I have also been shopping around for spring-like colors in clothing. I apparently am the only one ready to jump to it, and it is only mid-January. Oh how I long for warmer days….
Chenin Blanc. I have come to the conclusion that like Gewürztraminer or Chardonnay, people either love Chenin Blanc or hate it. I admit I had mixed feelings when I first had it, as I had it in my head it is a dry white, much like the Sauvignon Blanc. This is not generally the case. And though I hear there are dry versions of Chenin Blanc, I do have yet to come across one that I would agree to be anything more than dry-er for this varietal. If you’re not familiar with the varietal, I personally would say it is a mix of Chardonnay (without the oak) and Sauvignon Blanc. Take that however you like. I have chosen to review two of Washington’s version of this varietal. The first is a gold winner from the Seattle Wine Awards, and only runs about $10-$12. The other is a new wine and thus not terribly well-known yet, and retails for $19. I was excited by this, as I felt I had grabbed two bottles that would be well worth comparing: cheaper price vs. the upper end (at least in the world of white wines); gold winner vs. the newbie. Let’s begin with the gold winner.
Kyra Wines is well-known in the state of Washington for their numerous award-winning wines for both red and white varietals. Kyra Wines is also one of a handful of Washington wineries that produce a Pinot Noir. If I ever come across it, I have promised myself a bottle. The 2011 Chenin Blanc hails from the Wahluke Slope AVA of the Columbia Valley. The color is incredibly light, and the bouquet opens nicely with light tropical notes and orange peel. The palate is a nice blend of pineapple and citrus, with hints of lemon. The feel of this wine is heavier than I expected it would be, with the feel and taste of a fleshy cantaloupe and honey on the finish. Kyra 2011 Chenin Blanc took gold at the Seattle Wine Awards 2012, and is widely available for around $10-$12, or you may contact them online at http://www.kyrawines.com for ordering information. A fair price in my opinion! I enjoyed this wine with a nice, only slightly spicy, Thai dish. I recommend not keeping it around for night two, as I felt much of the flavor was lost overnight.
Kyra Wines 2011 Chenin Blanc: ★★★1/2 good/great wine
Winemakers notes: A pleasing fragrance of ruby red grapefruit, honey, kiwi, and almond. Delightful full mouth feel with hints of sweetened lemon rind and a touch of Granny Smith apple. Residual sugar 2.2%
Next up is a 2011 Chenin Blanc out of the Columbia Valley by Emvy Cellars. This small winery is located in Spokane, and is well-known for their “Devotion” red blends. And rightfully so, as they are truly wonderful and will set you back around $40 for the 2007 vintage. I have tried many of the wines here – as my husband and I, or my best friend and I – do make Emvy Cellars (who along with BridgePress Cellars make up MarketPlace Wine Bar) a fairly routine stop. One of my first blog reviews was on the BridgePress 600 red blend, and perhaps I’ll place the 2009 Merlot on the list to review as well. When I had decided to review the Kyra Chenin Blanc, I figured I’d make a day of it and bought a bottle of the Emvy Cellars wine as well. The Emvy 2011 Chenin Blanc presents with a bright, spicy floral bouquet with hints of apple. The brightness follows through onto the palate and met with light acidity, pineapple and melon fruits. The finish is still mouth-coating and juicy, similar to what I experienced with Kyra, only just slightly more dry. My understanding is that the Chenin Blanc is new to Emvy’s line, only their third white to be released. This wine can be picked up at the downtown wine room on 2nd Ave. (soon moving onto Pacific Ave., a few steps north of the current location) for $19, or you can visit them online at www.emvycellars.com for ordering information. This wine did hold up well on the second night. Another note is on the label: I love that the label on this wine is created by a local artist. I am told this is fairly common for them to have other (local) artist design the labels. I am a sucker for such support. I’d love to have the label in print or on canvas, I’m not picky!
Emvy Cellars 2011 Chenin Blanc: ★★★★ 1/2 great/excellent wine
Winemaker’s notes: Starts with slightly spicy floral nose with hints of apple and peach. The wine has a good balance of acidity and fruit, including melon. Slightly sweet on the palate, nice mouth feel, and a crisp finish.
I have learned with Chenin Blanc, like most or all white wines, it is best served chilled. Unlike some whites that I greatly enjoy, however, the Chenin Blanc does not hold up as well when it warms up. Many rosés are this way. I would recommend keeping the bottle chilled, whether it be in the fridge, in a wine chiller, or (if you live in Spokane) you can go Earth-friendly and let it sit in the snow.
Have you tried either of these wines before? Please share your thoughts in the comments below! And remember, the notes written on the wines are purely my own opinions, you may disagree!
For every wine there is a palate…. Cheers!