It's taken me a while to get here, but finally I tried a Loire Chenin Blanc, the Jo Pithon 2005 Anjou Les Pepinieres. Much like Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc is considered an inferior varietal outside of the Loire Valley. Inside the Loire Valley, however, it can produce dry, off-dry, sweet, sparkling and even Botrytized dessert wines in a variety of styles that only Riesling can match in terms of versatility. Top appellations include Savennieres, Anjoy, Vouvray, Jasnieres and even Chinon, where a small amount of Chinon Blanc is made from Chenin Blanc.
This wine is an experience. When first opened, it smelled honeyed like a dessert wine, but also showed some acetone-like volatile acidity and a brown color suggesting oxidation. Not to worry: it seems this producer employs oxidative winemaking techniques. Since the wine had already met plenty of air, I figured decanting wouldn't hurt. With some of the VA blowing off, the bouquet acquired a honeyed, musky aroma with banana nut bread and spiced rum showing up as well. I'm guessing there's some Botrytis involved here, as well as some isoamly acetate accounting for the banana aromas and oxidation causing the 'nut' in the banana nut bread. Whatever the case may be, this was awesomely unique and funky smelling. The palate, however, was essentially dry despite the dessert-like aromas. The flavors were nonetheless rich and mouth-coating, yet paradoxically weightless due to the acidity. There was the strange sensation of not feeling the acidity up front, then mouth watering on the long, minerally finish.
I'm guessing the volatile acidity level or oxidation might have crossed the threshold into being a 'technical flaw,' but this was just a pleasure to drink. This is a white wine for a red wine drinker that doesn't rely on excessive ripeness and oak like a Cali Chard to add depth. I'm sure there's some oak and ML involved here, but it's all integrated and well balanced. Tons going on for the price.
Pros: Complex Honeyed Bouquet, Rich, Weightless, Long Finish, MineralityCons: Volatile Acidity, Oxidation
Decant: Yes, to open up bouquetPrice: $21
QPR: Good (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)