Chenin Blanc comes to Portugal

A returned Portuguese expat from South Africa has produced Portugal’s first ever Chenin Blanc. Attractively priced at just €5.79 in Apolónia, this is a good dry white for the money, made with the help of leading Portuguese winemaker Paulo Laureano.
Produced at the Ribafreixo winery near Vidigueira in the Alentejo, the intense summer climate is a challenging environment in which to grow this grape and the wine does not have the exuberance of the cooler clime Chenin Blancs produced in South Africa’s Stellenbosch, or indeed the subtle quality of Chenins from the grape’s native Loire Valley.
But it is an easy-drinking wine that more than justifies the price tag; fresh on the nose with soft floral notes and well-balanced acidity.
I tried it alongside the excellent South African Chenin Blanc from the Simonsig winery (also available from Apolónia), for a few more euros and it paled in comparison, but the overall quality, value-for-money and curiosity appeal of this first Portuguese Chenin Blanc make it well worth a try.
Promotional price at Apolónia supermarket
(valid from Thursday 13 March to Wednesday 19 March)
CONNECTIONS CHENIN BLANC: €4.49 (retail price €5.79)
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]