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Savoring Chenin Blanc

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Chenin Blanc is responsible for some of the best wines no one ever drinks. It's a versatile variety, ranging from bone dry in style to dessert sweet—for this tasting, we opted for dry. Originating in the Loire Valley of France, Chenin Blanc is found in different wines there, the best known being Vouvray; but, as this tasting proved, it has achieved success in other places as well.

2016 Dashe "Black Bart Cuvee" Les Enfants Terribles Chenin Blanc, $21

From a California winery better known for its Zinfandels, here's an equally fine white that wins an award for longest name. Supple lime and spice aromas lead into flavors both rich and tangy; it's an impeccably balanced combo of ripe apple, apricot and citrus. "Black Bart" refers to the black concrete eggs used for its fermentation.

2014 Francois Pinon Vouvray, Les trois argiles, $21

Opens with floral honeysuckle, white flowers, rose hip, clover and a classic touch of black walnut, typical of the variety. The amazingly complex palate unfolds to reveal layers of peach, lime, blood orange, lemon curd, coriander and more. The Vouvray is a delicious wine you'll want to sip and savor.

2015 Protea Chenin Blanc, $15

The nose of this South African entry is filled with bright, ripe stone fruit and mandarin orange with a hint of beeswax. The flavors are a lively mix of creamy citrus and peach, with crisp acidity coming through on the finish. Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted grape in South Africa, where it is also known as Steen, and was first brought to that country in the 1600s.

—David Kirkpatrick

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