Moderator : Gabriel Lepousez
1. Gabriel Lepousez (Keynote Speaker) - Interdisciplinary perspectives on the taste of Chenin
Chenin blanc is a versatile grape variety. Wines from Chenin can be dry, sweet or sparkling. They can be light and subtle or rather rich and opulent. Chenin is also a world-class grape variety, produced in his home region of the Loire Valley but also in several countries. Such diversity can confuse the consumer and calls for a better communication on the taste of Chenin. In that context, how to describe the taste of Chenin? Does all wines of Chenin share a common sensory profile? Is the diversity of Chenin a signature of his capacity to transmit different messages and an added value for pairing with different food?
To answer these questions, this roundtable will bring together various experts to discuss about the taste of Chenin from different perspectives. Thus, we will ask the sommelier on how to appreciate the taste of Chenin in the light of food pairing.
We will invite the wine critic to tell us about his methods to compare, classify and judge the different wines of Chenin as well as his view about the evolution of the taste of Chenin.
From the scientific perspective, we will listen to the enologist about the recent progress in deciphering the chemical bases of the taste of Chenin and to the neuroscientist to better understand how our brain makes senses of the taste of Chenin.
And, last but not least, we will hear from the wine producers, who combine their know-how and their terroirs to generate such diversity of Chenin.
Altogether, these interdisciplinary views will highlight some new elements to better appreciate the different dimensions of the taste of Chenin and its evolution.
2. Hélène Nieuwoudt -Chenin Blanc's versatility
South African (SA) Chenin Blanc wines are produced in several different styles. The producers consider this feature a strength, since the grape lends itself to the expression of terroir, vineyard characteristics, cellaring and maturation practices. However, SA consumers have voiced their uncertainty about what to expect of the taste of the wine, when buying a bottle of Chenin Blanc in retail. We addressed this problem in two research objectives: (i) to map the complete sensory space of SA Chenin Blanc wines; and (ii) to identify the main SA styles.
Methods and materials
The sensory descriptions of some 2,700 commercial SA Chenin blanc wines from 2008 to 2014 were obtained from John Platter Wine Guide to South African Wines. Text data mining and correspondence analysis identified unique sensory words and main styles. Descriptive analysis by professional sensory panels was done on some 70 wines to obtain aroma and mouth-feel attributes.
A total of 266 unique sensory attributes were identified for Chenin Blanc. A reduction in this number by statistical resulted in the construction of a new aroma and mouth-feel wheel for SA Chenin Blanc. The varietal has a very complex sensory profile, ranging from light, fresh and fruity, to wines that have complex aromas and mouthfeel attributes.
The main sensory characteristics of SA Chenin are discussed. The aroma wheel is distributed in the industry and used at tasting events to inform consumers. It is also used as a guideline by the SA Wine and Spirits Board.