Winebird’s top 10 Vinalogies

6: Chenin Blanc – The beekeeper

In the dewy sunshine of his private orchard, our beekeeper tends to the little honeybees in his lanolin suit. We’re never quite sure who’s underneath that veil: is he skinny and nondescript, or could he be softer and fuller figured? Is it even the same person every time? True fame has so far eluded the beekeeper, as we can never quite pin him down. And surely, he must be slightly masochistic; this is a job with a sting in the tail.

Chenin Blanc likes pain: he needs to be severely pruned to get results or he ends up insipid with a damp wool flavour and that famous, stingingly high acidity all too apparent. Get it right and add a bit of sunshine, however, and you’ll be rewarded with honeydew melon notes, a touch of quince or pineapple and a pleasant, beeswax feel.

This grape of many faces makes still, sparkling and dessert wines that are dry, sweet or full-on syrupy in style, though it’s only a very small amount of these gloriously honeyed ‘moelleux’ dessert wines that have achieved any real fame. They can age for years thanks to Chenin’s screechingly high acidity.

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