Ark of Taste
Clarksburg Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is a white wine grape indigenous to France’s Loire Valley, which grows in large, dense clusters. Clarksburg Chenin Blanc wine is made from these grapes grown within the Clarksburg American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Clarksburg AVA was established in February 1984 and is approximately sixteen miles long and eight miles wide, encompassing 101 square miles (64,640 acres).
This versatile grape is naturally acidic, which means that almost any style of wine can be made from it: sparkling to sweet and everything in between. The acid helps to balance its flavor profile, even with a high level of residual sugar. Chenin Blanc was prominent among the first wine grapes planted in the Sacramento River Delta in the early 1960s. Within the hot California Central Valley, the Clarksburg/Delta region is unique. The soil is composed of various alluvial layers including sandy loams and dense clay.
This area receives a strong maritime influence with cooling nighttime breezes blowing up the Delta through the Carquinez Straits. These unique ecological characteristics make for an exceptional grape. World-renowned oenophile, gastronome and Slow Food International honoree Darrel Corti describes this wine as reminiscent of light honey, peaches, and nectarines. Nondescript Chenin Blanc has been used for many years as an inexpensive blending grape, marginalizing this grape variety. For this reason, the distinctive Clarksburg Chenin Blanc, one of the best expressions of the grape in the world, is struggling to be treated as the noble winemaking grape that it is.
Image by chrisada [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons