Moderator : Samuel Leturcq

1. Henri Galinié (Keynote Speaker) - History of Chenin blanc in the Loire Valley 

Different names have been in use in written sources since the 14th cent. in order to individualise the emblematic wine grape of the Loire valley known in the international nomenclature as Chenin Blanc. Even sparse, historical evidence is sufficient to establish a new version for the history of Chenin, different from the legendary one developed in parallel, mainly during the 19th cent. 

2. Patrick Baudouin - The Versitality of Chenin Blanc: a Hypothesis on the History of its Implantation in the Loire Valley 

Out of 9000 ha of Chenin blanc planted in France, why are 8500 ha in the Loire Valley, between Amboise and Ingrandes sur Loire?

 

Roger Dion has indicated that the Ingrandes sur Loire boundary was due to the border, and therefore the customs fees, between Brittany and France. A customs duty which was charged on wines from Anjou, and therefore only affordable if Chenin blanc wines were better value for money.

 

This observation does not explain this higher valuation. B Musset gave us a historical clue, when he described a solid and operating ecosystem, based on the development of a varietal by adapted cultural methods, providing types of wines (white and sweet wines) appreciated on a long term. Benoît Musset quotes an author who, in 1583, wrote that the wines of Anjou "hold the first rank in goodness". They are "almost all white, and sweet of the greatest part". B Musset: "We have here a very interesting mention, suggesting that the wines of Anjou were rather sweet. If one should not imagine they were sweet wines, one can still note this distinctive element in a French wine world where light and acidic wines prevailed. (..).

 

Through a presentation of the figures of Chenin blanc wines analysis over the vintages available to us in the 19th century, we will propose an explanation of Chenin blanc’s ability to have found its niche, its ecosytem / terroir / varietal / market for centuries. With this final question: in the current changing environment, how can we envisage its future in the Loire Valley?

3. Irina von Holdt - The History of Chenin Blanc in South Africa

The Early Years – 17th and 18th Centuries.
•    The first grapes are pressed in 1659 from two varieties; Chenin blanc, then called “steendruiven”, is one of them.
•    Within twenty years Steen recognised as producing better quality wine and becomes widely planted.
•    Arrival of French Huguenots in 1688 has positive impact on wine quality.


19th Century 
•    The Cape changes ownership: from Holland to Britain, and back to Holland, finally becoming a British colony, causing confusion in the wine industry.   
•    Steen plantings overtaken by Sémillon which eclipses all other varieties. 
•    Wars in Europe affect wine exports.


20th Century
•    Confusion regarding the name, Steen, is resolved when it is finally identified as Chenin Blanc.
•    Establishment of Nederburg as a premium trailblazing producer with a focus on clonal selection of Chenin Blanc and the use of cold fermentation which revolutionises wine making at the Cape. 
•    Lieberstein, a light everyday wine made from Chenin Blanc, changes the drinking habits of South Africans and becomes the largest selling wine brand in the world. 
•    The first purpose-made botrytis sweet wine from South Africa, Edelkeur from Nederburg, is made from Chenin Blanc and wins international acclaim.


Recent History 
•    Blue White Chenin Blanc is launched in 1995 to change perception of Chenin Blanc from cheap and cheerful to a high quality variety and to focus attention on the country’s old Chenin vines. 
•    The Chenin Blanc Challenge competition is initiated by SA WINE magazine to reward producers of winning wines and encourage the quest for excellence.
•    Founding of the Chenin Blanc Association which aims to make Chenin Blanc South Africa’s white wine flag bearer and take its place among the other great white wines of the world. 
•    South Africa participates in the Rendezvous du Chenin competition in France at the Abbey of Fontevraud. 
•    Old Vine Project initiated to identify valuable old vineyards.
•    Research conducted by the University of Stellenbosch into marketing aspects of SA Chenin Blanc. 

Session II - Biologie et comportement du Chenin Blanc dans un environnement en mutation

the Program

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