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by Fred McMillin
for October 6, 1997
Peter and the Chenin, 50-Year Romance
A Good Fifty Years, 1946—1996:
1946—A DRY Chenin Blanc called "White Pinot" is produced by Peter Mondavi and the Krug Winery team.
1954—A SLIGHTLY-SWEET Chenin Blanc is introduced by the team.
1996—A DRY Chenin Blanc is introduced by the team.
The Rest of the Story: The 1954 Sensation—The off-dry Chenin Blanc created a national sensation. Charles Krug Chenin Blanc became the standard against which other American Chenins were judged. The vast improvement was due to the Mondavi pioneering work with cold fermentation which magnified the inherent fruit aromas and flavors of that grape. Appropriately, the Krug version was the first domestic wine to be labeled "Chenin Blanc."
So, in 1996 why go back to the same dry version produced 50 years ago? Answer: It's NOT the same. This new Chenin Blanc has all the modern bells and whistles that have evolved in recent decades...French oak, malolactic fermentation, stirring of the lees (post- fermentation flavor-laden sediment), etc. It's even been given a name of its own, "Pineau." The Chenin Blanc originated in the Loire Valley, where it commonly is called the "Pineau de la Loire." This is the Cadillac of Chenins...drive in and fill 'er up.
Postscript: The Charles Krug Winery did more in 1996 than introduce the Pineau. Compared to the prior year, sales of Krug Chardonnay increased nearly 50%, Cabernet Sauvignon 60% and Merlot a whopping 105%!
Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf
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