Also known as the "refined" Sauvignon Blanc, it's hard not to love Chenin Blanc for it's versatility. You can find oak aged styles similar to Chardonnay, as well as light & crsip styles closer to Sauvignon Blanc.
Pear, apple, chamomile & honey notes dominate the profile of Chenin Blanc wines, and it's acidity produces crisp & vibrant wines which can also be made into sweet wines & brandies.
Additionally, different styles of Chenin Blanc will create different flavors
Dry: When the grapes are fermented dry and kept fresh, they produce a very lean, minerally style Chenin Blanc that offers up flavors of tart pear, quince, ginger, and chamomile.
Off-Dry: When some of the grapes’ natural sugars are left in the wine, you’ll taste richer flavors of ripe pear, ginger, jasmine, passion fruit, and honeycomb.
Sweet: Sweeter styles of Chenin Blanc have flavors of dried persimmon, toasted almond, mango, ginger, and mandarin orange.
Sparkling: Sparkling styles can range from dry (Brut) to sweet (Demi-Sec), with Chenin Blanc’s classic characteristics of quince, yellow apple, plum, ginger, and floral notes.
It's almost a must to pair Chenin Blanc with Asian cuisines. Think sweet & sour pork, or pork chops, as well as Turkey! It handles the cranberry sauce like as if it was made to do so.
Over 50% of it is grown in South Africa, with France, United States & Argentina forming the bulk of the remainder. Cooler climate wines will have a more prominent passionfruit aroma, while warmer climates would produce peach or melon notes.
South Africa is the largest producer of Chenin Blanc. Sometimes blended with Semillon, Viognier or Marsanne to make a "sweeter oaked Chardonnay", it's also blended with Sauvignon Blanc to create a zesty dry white.
LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE
The trouble with growing Chenin Blanc in a cooler climate like the Loire Valley is uneven ripening. As such, the grapes are often hand harvested multiple times, and it's ripeness at harvest is a big determining factor for the style it's used to create.
Less ripe, acidic grapes are used to create sparkling wines. Riper grapes are used to create aromatic off-dry styles, and can even be left on the vine to create a late harvest style dessert wine. This would give it rich notes of marmalade & ginger, and is blended to craete the famous sweet wines of Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux, among others.