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Chenin Blanc

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Chateau Pierre-Bise Savennieres Clos De La Coulaine Claude Papin 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 expert review tasting of Savennières (see blue link below).

Chateau Pierre-Bise Savennieres Clos De La Coulaine Claude Papin 2016 - June 2019 Decanter review

Claude Papin, winemaker and owner of Chateau Pierre-Bise, is a leading light in the Loire and a thoroughly engaging conversationalist to boot. Andrew Jefford calls him a ‘poet of Chenin Blanc,’ and Jancis Robinson MW refers to him as ‘one of the most talented wine growers in this part of the world, a true vine technician.’ His approach to Chenin Blanc can be summed up in his own words: "The Chenin is made by botrytization. If there isn’t any, it always makes hard wine. Even my dry wines are made with about 50% botrytization. This translates in the wine as honeyed notes."

The presence of some botrytis in a dry wine and the slightly oxidative winemaking style produces complex wines that often require time, food and thought. They are well worth the effort though, as any true fan of Loire wine will tell you.

This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc.

Here are Joanna Simons' thoughts on this wine which was listed on her website as 'Wine of the Week' in April 2019.

"Savennières from a favoured vintage and good producer is an absolute treasure – dry and mineral, yet honeyed, especially after a couple of years' age, and always carried by pivotal acidity. The appellation is just west of Angers on schist hills on the north bank of the Loire and 2016 was a year in which frost wreaked havoc, but for the vineyards that were spared it closed on a high with a sunny, warm late summer. The result is intensity of flavour, silky texture, laser-precise acidity (although lower than in some vintages) and signature Loire Chenin Blanc notes of apricot, sweet apple, hay and minerals. It's a riveting aperitif, but the combination of rich fruit and good acidity makes it a match for creamy fish dishes such as fish pie, shellfish such as scallops with, say, lardons or a purée of sweetcorn or petit pois, roast pork belly, including with apple, and with Beaufort, Comté and similar firm, mountain cheeses. It could also handle some trickier dishes."


Domaine Saint Nicolas, Le Haut des Clous, Fiefs Vendeens, Chenin Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

Patrice Michon settled in Brem-Sur-Mer after inheriting several acres of vines from his father. The vineyard is now in its third generation and continues to be involved in reviving the wines of Brem and making them famous. In 1995, Thierry Michon introduced biodynamic methods to the whole vineyard. He’s now working with his two sons, Antoine and Mickael. Their philosophy is as follows: "We provide highly quality wines which are the pure incarnation of a unique land and benefit from an exceptional microclimate. We conduct our whole vineyard according to the principles of Biodynamics, thus respecting our balanced and privileged environment."

Due to its proximity to the ocean, Domaine Saint-Nicolas benefits from a micro-climate that is influenced by the sea, woodland and the marshes of the Ile d’Olonne. The vines are planted facing south-west for the Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cabernet and southeast for the Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc on clay and schist soils. The domaine is farmed biodynamically. It is a major undertaking to keep the soil, and hence the vines, healthy. 

For Thierry Michon, the gregarious force behind one of the Loire’s best-kept secrets, it’s all about the soil. Working on schist and silex a flint stone’s throw away from the Atlantic, Thierry is the prophet of biodynamics in this tiny viticultural area. His vineyards never see a non-organic product. He raises his own cows simply for the manure they produce which he religiously spreads between the vines. He has slowly purchased buffer zones all around his property to prevent any chemical products from neighbouring vineyards seeping onto his land. For him, biodynamics isn’t just a pragmatic consideration, it’s like a religion.

Le Haut des Clous is 100% Chenin Blanc.

The average average age of these vines is 25 years, planted on clay/schist soils. Slight slopes which are exposed south-east, have been cultivated biodynamically since 1995. This wine is fresh and lively, with light-weight floral character, persimmon, green almond, apple and pear notes stretched over a bright, elegant frame. You can smell the countryside in its aromas, manifesting themselves as heather, lavender and almond. It has a good tight, crisp palate. This wine has the capacity to age for over 10 years.


Gabrielskloof Elodie Chenin Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of Old-vine South Africa.

Gabrielskloof Elodie 2015 - December 2017 Decanter review

Gabriëlskloof is a beautiful wine estate located near Bot River in the Overberg region east of Cape Town. It was purchased in 2001 by Bernhard Heyns, who had been on the lookout for the ideal place to plant vines. After planting, his first vintage was in 2009. We felt compelled to add Gabriëlskloof to our list because Peter-Allan Finlayson, Bernhard’s son in law, took over as winemaker from the 2015 vintage. The farm has 300 hectares, with 68 hectares planted to vines. The climate is cool with maritime influences coming from Walker Bay. The vineyards are farmed sustainably with the aim to move to organic farming in the future.

The two vineryards used to make this wine are situated in the Paardeberg region of the Swartland. Both are estimated to be over 35 years old. They are dryland bush vine vineyards and have never been irrigated. These vineyards are very labour intensive to farm and, as a result of the arid conditions, yield little fruit (between one and three tonnes per hecatre). South Africa is the only New World country that has significant plantings of old-vine Chenin Blanc and Elodie is an expression of what can be made from this national treasure.

2016 was a very dry vintage, which led to a smaller crop but the vines were healthy vines and produced concentrated fruit.

The grapes were whole bunch pressed with no additions. After an overnight rough settling in tank, the juice was transfered to 400 and 500 litre old French oak barrels, followed by fermentation with wild yeasts only. The wine remained in oak for nine months before bottling.

The 2016 Elodie is light and pale in colour with a golden straw hue. On the nose, subtle aromas of citrus pith and white floral notes settle into layers of almond, dried pineapple and lanolin. The palate is restrained with a viscous, waxy mouthfeel and great natural acidity and freshness typical of old vine Chenin.


Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc Reserve 2017 (1x75cl)

See our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details of this wine in action.

The Forrester, mid-rank (which does it no justice), Reserve-level Chenin and amazing value from the King of Chenin.

Hand harvested, with careful selection from low trellis and old bush vines.

Barrel and tank fermented and left on the lees (9 months in French oak, 20% of which was new) and matured on secondary lees for a rounded complexity.

Golden hued and full bodied, with melon and spicy baked apple aromas. Layered, with mineral notes enhanced by honeycomb and caramel flavours from lees contact. This wine is a great example of the harmonious balance which can be achieved between fruit and delicate oak/vanilla flavours, as they combine to form complex, soft flavours with sufficient body to enhance even spicy and full flavoured meals.


Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2016 edition review of South African Chenin Blanc (see blue link below).

Ken Forrester FMC CB 2014 - Nov 2016 Decanter review

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition expert review of South African old-vine Chenin Blanc (see blue link below).

Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2016 - August 2018 Decanter review

The pinnacle of what we consider to be the finest expression of the grapes of this varietal, an icon Chenin and a challenge to the world! Rich, layered with dried apricot, vanilla and honey. Will gain additional complexity with cellaring.

Residual sugar = 7.6 g/litre, so on the margin between dry and off-dry; as The FMC always is!

We like this because it's amazing. Full stop, period, end of. See our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details.


L.A.S. Vino CBDB (Chenin Blanc Dynamic Blend) 2016 (1x 75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of Margaret River (Australia) (see blue link below).

LAS Vino CBDB 2015 - Dec 2017 Decanter review

LAS Vino is the creation of Nic Peterkin, son of Mike Peterkin of Pierro winery and Shelley Cullen, Vanya Cullen's sister. Nic did a Masters in Oenology and, after vintages in the Napa Valley, Mexico, Portugal and Mendoza, started his own label. LAS refers to the Luck of the weather, the Art of creating and the Science that underpins this creativity. The result is a small quantity of high quality, hand-made wines. The packaging is as impressive as the wine: bottled in dark French glass and sealed with wax, it is finished with the striking, hand drawn labels. The wines fulfil Nic's stated aim: to make interesting wines with minimum intervention but within the bounds of science.

Fruit for the CBDB comes from 30-year-old vines planted in vineyards in the Willyabrup region. Located in the heart of Western Australia's renowned Margaret River wine region, Willyabrup is surrounded by open water on three sides and the vineyards are swept by cool sea breezes blowing in from the Indian and Southern Oceans, retaining the aromatic perfume of the grapes. The gravel subsoil ensures good drainage, while the high clay content enables good water retention throughout the summer aiding vine development. The vines are VSP trained.

The 2016 growing season saw above average rainfall late in the winter, followed by more in early spring, increasing soil moisture. This, combined with warmer than average October temperatures, resulted in higher than normal vine vigour. The growing period was milder, which favoured the earlier ripening varieties - overall it was a long and cool vintage which resulted in leaner, more elegant wines with excellent complexity.

All grapes were hand picked on the same day, in the early cool hours of the morning, then chilled to preserve finesse and aroma. The fruit was then hand sorted and cold pressed as whole bunches. The juice was left to settle and ferment naturally. Once fermentation began, 30% of the wine was transferred to Clayer vessels with the remaining 70% in third use French oak with monthly lees stirring. The wine received partial malolactic fermentation to increase complexity and was then rested for 11 months.

This wine is pale straw in colour. Complex aromas including peach blossom, honeysuckle and citrus are combined with subtle honey, almond and tropical fruit notes. It is full-bodied and almost creamy on the palate with touches of lemon, lime and honey. The finish lingers with hints of lemon meringue.


Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition panel tasting of "Alternative" New Zealand Whites (not Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay) (see blue link below)...

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

... and comments from one particular reviewer...

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review - individual comments

James Millton is a living legend in the New Zealand wine scene. A pioneer of organic and biodynamic winemaking, he has ploughed his own furrow for three decades, quietly convinced that his sustainable approach to viticulture and winemaking was the only way to progress.

The Millton winery's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details. Please note this fiche technique is for the 2016 vintage.

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2016 – fiche technique


Mooiplaas - The Mercia Collection - "Houmoed" Chenin Blanc 2015 (1x 75cl)

Mooiplaas Wine Estate and Private Nature Reserve is situated among the majestic mountains and fertile valleys in the Stellenbosch Winelands, approximately 40km east of Cape Town. Mooiplaas is a historic and traditional working wine farm. The vineyards lie on steep slopes of ancient mineral-rich soils in the Bottelary Hills of Stellenbosch, overlooking Cape Town.

Mooiplaas Wine Estate & Private Nature Reserve uses an environmentally friendly and biodiversity approach to produce premium quality grapes each year. With the advantage of growing up on the farm and farming since 1980, their viticulturist, Tielman Roos, knows every intimate detail of the estate and the terroir.

"We believe that wine should be authentic, elegant, well balanced and structured while showing its vibrance and fullness of flavour. It must add joy to life!"

This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc.

To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine that has been produced by the team at Mooiplaas, please click on the blue link below.

Mooiplaas Houmoed Chenin Blanc 2015 - fiche technique


Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Long Gully Chenin Blanc 2016 (Single Vineyard) (1x75cl)

"The lovely 2016 vintage (5*) is rich, vibrant and finely poised. Bright, light lemon/green, it is full-bodied (14 per cent alcohol), with fresh, intense fruit flavours, hints of spices and honey, abundant sweetness (51 grams/litre of residual sugar), mouth-watering acidity and a lasting finish. Full of youthful drive, it's already delicious; drink now or cellar." 5 Stars - Michael Cooper's Buyers Guide 2018

Established in 1992, the Dicey family owns some of the oldest vineyards in the Bannockburn region of Central Otago on the famous Felton Road and have acquired land over the last ten years to build up to over 40 hectares, including six single vineyard sites. Their portfolio vineyards spans Central Otago from Gibbston to Lowburn Valley and on to Bendigo home still under Mount Difficulty at Bannockburn.

Central Otago provides New Zealand’s only continental climate, combined with unique soils ideally suited for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. The Bannockburn area, in particular, is one of the few sites outside of Burgundy that lends itself to the growing of the pernickety Pinot Noir grape; Mt Difficulty craft wines in the Burgundian style whilst stamping the uniqueness of the terroir to produce structured and serious wines. Not content with growing superb Pinot Noir, they are also known for their aromatic whites and grape varieties such as their grower series Lowburn Chardonnay and Estate Chenin Blanc.

Winemaker-in-chief Matt Dicey has a lifelong association with the wine industry and is a fourth-generation vigneron. After achieving a Masters Degree in Oenology and Viticulture, Matt spent four years gaining experience overseas.

As with all New Zealand wines, Mt Difficulty adhere to strict sustainability practices and constantly strive towards organic production.

Mount Difficulty is the name on the leading wines. The ‘second label’ is named Roaring Meg; these wines are produced in a more fruit-driven, early-drinking style and have become a mainstay of the Mt Difficulty stable since their introduction in 2003.

See the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the team at Mt Difficulty.

Mt Difficulty Long Gully Chenin Blanc 2016 - fiche technique

This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc.

This single vineyard Chenin Blanc is grown in the Long Gully vineyard in Bannockburn. The grapes were left on the vine to ripen for as long as possible which has led to a lovely, intense nose of tropical fruits such as mango and passionfruit. The tropical flavours follow through on the palate with concentrated flavours of mango and ripe peach. The natural high acidity of the Chenin has resulted in a wine that starts sweet but develops into a lovely and clean lime tinged finish.


Saumur Blanc La Cabriole 2017 (1x75cl)

Grapes for white Saumur are grown throughout the Saumur area as well as in certain communes in the northern parts of the Deux-Sèvres and Vienne departments. White Saumur is made from Chenin Blanc grapes. The subsoil consists of the same tufa limestone used to build the famous Loire Valley castles.

The grapes are destemmed and pressed after a short period of skin contact, then pressed in pneumatic presses. Fermentation takes place  in temperature-controlled vats. The wine is bottled early in cellars dug out of tufa, where it continues to age in bottle, protected from light and variations in temperature.

The La Cabriole Saumur Blanc is pale yellow colour with greenish highlights. The aromas are mainly citrus featuring lemon and grapefruit, with hints of tropical fruit. It is rich and round on the palate after a fresh, fruity initial impression. This is a perfect accompaniment to fish and seafood dishes. It is also pleasant with hot or cold delicatessen meats, and enjoyable with cheese (especially goat’s cheese). The freshness of the wine makes it an excellent aperitif, while its strength and roundness give it staying power until the end of a meal.


Spier Signature Chenin Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

Established in 1692, Spier is one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms, with a fascinating history and a legacy that the owners never take for granted. Today the farm has a modern, conscious energy. Spier is one of 39 WWF Conservation Champions, is organically certified and follows the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) criteria. Spier is still family run. It’s owned and managed by the family who bought the farm in 1993. Spier has a passion for the environment and for supporting the community, buying from and supporting local producers.

100% Chenin Blanc.

Grapes were hand harvested from selected vineyard blocks that vary from bush vine to trellised vines. Grapes received at the cellar were de-stemmed, slightly crushed before pressing and given brief skin contact. Free run juice settled in the tanks overnight and the following morning, the clear settled juice, of the individual block selections (some kept separate and some blended) were racked from their lees and inoculated with selected yeast strains. Fermentation is temperature controlled. Only the best tanks are selected for the final preparation of the blend according to the style of the wine. Maturation occurred on the fine lees for another three months to give extra body and elegance, prior preparation for bottling. The wine was not oaked.

Pale gold colour with fresh lime green flashes around the edge. Tastes of green-apple, ripe white-fleshed nectarine. Fresh, zippy, ripe fruited, sliced pear, undertow of honey with a limesquirt ending.


Stellar Organics Running Duck Chenin Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

The Running Duck range is made by Stellar Organics – the pioneer winery from Western South Africa. The wines are certified organic and have also been made according to “Fair for life” guidelines. This social & fair trade certification ensures that human rights are guaranteed at any stage of production, that workers enjoy good and fair working conditions and that smallholder farmers receive a fair price.

The brand is named after the Indian Runners ducks sent roaming into the vineyards to eat snails and other threats to the vines. This is natural pest control and allows the winery not to use pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

This is a delicate example of the native French grape that South Africa has made its own. There are subtle aromas of stone fruits and melon. It develops nicely on the palate, releasing flavours of almond and white peach. The fullness of the fruit is balanced by a nice clean acidity which leaves a long, crisp refreshing finish.


Stellenrust 53 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

<note re naming of this wine: the number in the title increases by 1 every year, as this is the age (in years) of the vineyard used!>

Stellenrust was established in 1928 and has ever since produced some of the most superb quality wines that the Stellenbosch region from South Africa can offer. It consists of about 400ha (200ha planted) of which half is stretched over the Golden Triangle area of Stellenbosch, internationally recognised for some of the best red wine soil in South Africa. The other half is situated high up in the Bottelary Hills, renowned for its cool climate and late afternoon sea breezes swooping in from Cape Town to nurture both excellent white and red wines. 

Stellenrust has the accolade of being one of the largest family owned wine estates in South Africa and the estate has now been passed down through several generations. Their motto is evocative of their spirit: "where excellence meets winemaking".

This wine is made using 100% Chenin Blanc.

To see an excellent tasting note and information sheet for this wine that has been produced by the team at Stellenrust, please click on the blue link below.

Stellenrust 53 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017 - fiche technique


Stellenrust Chenin Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded a Gold Medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2018 DWWA winners, click here.

Stellenrust was established in 1928 and has ever since produced some of the most superb quality wines that the Stellenbosch region from South Africa can offer. It consists of about 400ha (200ha planted) of which half is stretched over the Golden Triangle area of Stellenbosch, internationally recognised for some of the best red wine soil in South Africa. The other half is situated high up in the Bottelary Hills, renowned for its cool climate and late afternoon sea breezes swooping in from Cape Town to nurture both excellent white and red wines. 

Stellenrust boasts today being one of South Africa's largest family-owned wine estates, carrying through generations of winemaking skills and the legacy of the motto 'where excellence meets winemaking'.

For this Chenin, grapes are harvested from decomposed granite soils and vineyards varying in age (but none younger than 30 years and up to 42 years of age).

Grapes are allowed short skin contact and natural settling in tank. 12% is fermented in 3rd- and 4th-fill French oak barrels and 88% in stainless steel after, which both portions are kept 5 months on the fermentation lees before it is blended and fined. Fermentation is a slow natural process and wild yeast ferments like this can take up to 3 months to finish.

The Stellenrust Chenin Blanc shows strong lime and some tropical fruit on the nose with a mineral palate of grape fruit and pear drop. Stellenrust class it as off-dry, but state its residula sugar to be just 3.4 g/litre, below the level of sugar detection for nearly all palates!


Swartland Winery Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highy Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2016 edition review of South African Chenin Blanc (see blue link below). 

Swartland Bush Vine CB 2015 - Nov 2016 Decanter review

Big open skies, arid deserts, the vast flowing landscape, with its unforgiving climate and rugged bush vines, this is wild country, this is Swartland. The contrast with manicured Constantia and oh-so-cool Stellenbosch couldn't be greater. But right now, Swartland is the most exciting wine region in South Africa. A new wave of winemakers are making ground-breaking wines from Rhône varietals and it is part of a revolution that has got everybody talking. The Swartland Winery is producing iconic and award winning wines in this fashionable and dynamic region, so we have joined forces with them to create a unique, distinctive and expressive wine range that has been masterfully blended for the UK palate. We think something this good, is definitely worth talking about!

The 2015 vintage was memorable for being of the driest and earliest harvest in many years. The Swartland region’s crop was a smaller harvest than usual, but the smaller and more concentrated berries delivered remarkable quality.

The Swartland name originates from a description of the indigenous "renosterbos" or rhino bush, which appears to turn black, ("Swart" in Afrikaans), during the summer months. This hot, dry climate has an average temperature range of 25°C to 35°C and an annual rainfall of 450 mm and 600mm, but the altitude of these vineyards creates a cool oasis in this arid landscape. Minimal intervention and environmentally friendly farming practices are paramount. The soil types vary, but Malmesbury Shale dominates, with small patches of granite and Table Mountain sandstone. The gravel substructure of the soil promotes good moisture retention, essential in this hot, dry climate.

A full flavoured wine with rich aromas of pineapple and ripe nectarine over a creamy texture. The grapes came from 100% bush vines with an age range of between 25 to 30 years. The berries were harvested at optimal phenolic ripeness. An extended skin contact was applied and fermentation took place at 13°C. The wine received 0.5 grams/litre French oak during fermentation and underwent an extended fine lees contact, following the fermentation. The wine was aged in second and third fill French oak barrels for a period of six months, prior to being filtered and bottled.

Chenin Blanc 100%.

Rich aromas of dried fruit, peach, apricot and citrus hints follow through on to a creamy palate. A crisp, well balanced and intense wine, with integrated oak is still light enough to enjoy more than one glass!

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