DrinkCheninDay June 20

Super Chenins from across WA

The Swan Valley is the oldest wine region in WA, originally settled in 1829: Chenin Blanc has been in the ground in the Swan for the entirety of that time.  There are productive vines to this day, planted over a hundred years ago.  The modern era of the Margaret River wine region traces back to 1967, so even though Margaret River’s plantings are significantly younger, some go back to the 1980’s.  Both regions are responsible for glorious iterations of the grape which are both emminently drinkable now and legitmately age-worthy.  One of the world’s great versatile grapes, chenin can be made dry or sweet, still or sparkling, with all four variants producing excellent quality examples in a broad array of price ranges.  I have also included two producers here that fall outside of the Margaret River/Swan Valley scale, Peel Estate (Karnup WA) and Express Winemakers (The Great Southern).

While this is a comprehensive list of Chenins available in WA, it is by no means everyone!

2018 Marri Wood Park Chenin Blanc

Margaret River

Spicy fine and aromatic – the nose is all geraldton wax, apple, summer apricot and white spice.  The palate is mid-weight, the flavours plume and intesify through the long finish.  Love the spice/fruit balance, all things are deliciously balanced.  Keeping things interesting, there are suggestions of fennel, anise and almond meal on the palate… soft little hints of something like ginger nut in there too.  Loving this.  Really good intensity.  Generous and inviting.  Plenty to touch and feel.  All about it.


2018 Garbin Estate Chenin Blanc

Swan Valley, 12.3%

Spicy white stone fruit, hessian, coffee grounds, white plum, white pepper.  The palate has a vibrant lift in the acid line – a seam than runs through the fruit and leaves behind it a trail of refreshment and life.  The finish is spicy and engaging – it holds my attention until I can taste it no longer.


2018 Cape Grace Chenin Blanc

Margaret River, 13.7%

Spiced apple, white pepper, anise, fennel, summer apricot, cheese rind and talc.  The palate is slippery and viscose with mouth-watering acid that sweeps everything up in its voluminous skirts and rounds it out through the finish.  Delicious little number.  Worked.  Something through the finish that is suggestive of crushed sweet nuts – sugared almonds, let’s say.  Made by Dylan Arvidson (LS Merchants)


2017 Peel Estate Wood Matured Chenin Blanc

Karnup, 12.5%

A golden colour in the glass, the nose has an array of spice characters, laced with crushed ant, geranium, bitter almond, hazelnut.  The palate is intensely concentrated, this drinks more like a chardonnay in body than chenin, although the characters of chenin shine brightly from its depths.  A peculiar, unique chenin that has great length of flavour and carry over the palate.  It does not give up.  Impressive. Rich and intense.


2019 Vino Volta Funky and Fearless Chenin Blanc

Swan Valley

Summer pear, crushed oyster shell, red and green apples, salted nectarine… full and exciting.  Pristine.  Big yes – love what is happening here.  Intensely flavoured.


Much more artefact on the nose here – we’re talking cheese rind, salted preserved lemon, saltbush, bay leaf, ginger, white peach, red apple skin.  More.  The palate is thrilling.  Whole bunch pressed, high solids, natural ferment in old barriques – all of the effects that these techniques have had on the wine are present and accounted for, and it is very good indeed.  Ground Macadamia, not sure if ‘present’, or screaming to be paired with… both?  The acidity is scintillating, the perfect foil to the textural and succulent fruit.  (Tasted March 2020)


2019 Tripe.Iscariot Absolution Wilyabrup Chenin Blanc

Margaret River

Searing acid, bright and poised.  This oozes class and style… it is pristine but it’s also spicy – the fruit shines with purity and regional expression, everything laced with nuanced spice and texture.  Absolutely singing.


2019 Tripe.Iscariot Absolution Karridale Chenin Blanc

Margaret River

On the nose there is bath salts and talc, this is distinctly different from the Wilyabrup, showing the cool vitality of site/vineyard selection.  There is a structured, ashy vibe to this wine, the palate boasting a core of acid that rolls around the internal structuring of the fruit.  This is unique and delicious, the overwhelming impression of a lingering sense of yeast autolysis characters… I could write about this all day.  Zero heft.  Standalone.  Weightless.  Reliant on nothing other than its own shape and core.


2019 LS Merchants Chenin Blanc


“Yellow stone fruits with almond meal, waxy yet saline” pretty much sums it up.  This is all toasted and salted peach on the nose, hints of ripe summer apricot and a whack of fennel, ginger nut, white pepper and sea spray.  The palate falls in line with an addictive chewiness to the phenolics on the mid palate.  Totally smooth sailing through the finish… elegant.


2013 John Kosovich Wines Bottle Aged Chenin Blanc

Swan Valley

Approached liked riesling in terms of production.  Purity finesse and balance.  Hand-picked, bunch sorted, lightly pressed off skins as soon as possible, cold settled, cool ferment.  Left on very fine yeast lees.  Bottled in October of the same year.  It’s always been a tight wine, green apple, white pepper, nashi pear, honeysuckle, green apricot, Geraldton wax flower.  The palate is generous and viscose – there’s a slipperiness to it that I love.  Spice.  White spice, waxy, fine… and an intriguing dry finish.  I love this.  Yes.


2018 LAS Vino CBDB (Chenin Blanc Dynamic Blend)

Margaret River

Lychee, pink grapefruit, fresh, alive and layered.  Long.  Streamlined and cooling acidity.  Love this.  Geraldton wax, lanolin, spice and length.  Swallowed it.  Saline lick.  Slick.

96 pts

2019 Corymbia Chenin Blanc

Swan Valley

Handpicked over three days, whole bunch pressed prior to natural ferment.  A portion was matured in seasoned French oak barriques for 7 months prior to blending and bottling.   Geraldton wax florals, cheesecloth, white spice.  The palate is textural and chewy – there’s a fingerprint putty fineness about the texture that I love.  Pure.  Energising.  But there is structure there too.  Saline.  Vibrant expressive style.


I’ve looked at this twice…

Having been to the vineyard and stood beneath the towering Corymbia tree, it’s difficult to seperate the experience on that hot, 37C summer’s morning, with the wine in the glass in front of me, now.  At once vibrant, aromatic (redolent with lime blossom, Geraldton wax flower, green apple, white pepper and an abundance of ripe summertime pears) and textural, this is a super exciting new-world Chenin… and bring that right on. Hand picked, whole bunch, a portion saw French oak (older).  This is salty, layered, pristine and bright.  So saying, there’s no way any of it is going to be put away into the back of the wine fridge – but I dare say if it was, it would last an age.


Just in case I missed some (which I did) here is a further list of beautiful chenins from WA:

Sittella Sparkling Chenin Brut NV, Swan Valley

2017 Streicker Ironstone Block Chenin Blanc, Margaret River

2018 Swan Valley Wines Chenin Blanc, Swan Valley

2019 Voyager Project Sparkling Chenin Blanc, Margaret River (Also the still chenin blanc)

And don’t miss the chenins from these guys and girls:

Chouette, Swan Valley

Blind Corner, Margaret River

Dormilona, Margaret River

Wines of Merritt, Margaret River

Express Winemakers, Great Southern

If this isn’t enough of a list to get you started… I don’t know what is!