100% Chenin Blanc
- Chenin Blanc! Not exactly the first grape that springs to mind when you think of California! Some people may even say that, as a winemaker, you would have to be CRAZY to bother with a grape which has a relatively low level of consumer recognition. This, when you could much more easily make/market Cab or Chard etc. This leads nicely to my next point…
- The founder of the Rendez-vous Winery is Larry Dizmang….actually…..Dr. Larry Dizmang M.D. (psychiatrist), as he is more formally known! The doctor – along with his wife Evie (a clinical social worker) – founded the Folie a Deux Winery (you’ve no-doubt seen the Menage a Trois label). He sold the winery (which had initially been converted from a former sheep ranch) in 1995, and at its peak was producing around 20,000 cases. It’s interesting to note that the name “Folie a Deux” is the medical term used to describe two people who share the same delusion. In this case, it’s making wine!
- The base for Larry’s new vinous-venture is in the Old Sugar Mill, located in Clarksburg. The venue serves as an “all-in-one” winemaking operation (custom crush, wine tasting room and event space) for eight California wineries. Check-out the Old Sugar Mill on Facebook
- The focus of Rendez-vous is to only use Clarksburg appellation grapes in their winemaking. Dr. Dizmang is also making a Late Harvest Chardonnay, Rose Grenache, Petite Sirah, as well as Rendez-Rouge and Rendez-Blanc (a pair of white and red blends).
- The Rendez-vous Chenin Blanc is already on its way to becoming one of the more noteworthy examples of Chenin in the country, after taking home the Silver Medal the recent California State Fair.
- Rendez-vous is one of the very few wineries that actually list their Clarksburg appellation operation on the front label.
- Clarksburg benefits from the exact same morning fog and cool breezes as experienced by the San Francisco Bay, and Napa/Sonoma vineyards.
- The Clarksburg AVA is located in the Central Valley region of California.
- Even though Chenin Blanc is still thought of as one of the more obscure varietals in California, in the 1980s, California actually had more Chenin Blanc planted than France! Unfortunately, during the 70’s and 80’s, most of the wine made using Chenin was simple and commercial “plonk,” often harboring a fairly high level of sweetness.
- South Africa is the country that has really started to take Chenin Blanc seriously, with now just over twice the acreage of France.
- Currently there are over 24+ different grape varieties growing in Clarksburg, with the best Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah wines in California hailing from the little-known region.
If, like me, you relish the opportunity get outside your “California wine comfort zone,” this is going to be right up your alley! If you’ve ever tasted Chenin Blanc before, prepare for an eye-opening experience with the Rendez-vous. I was prepared for much more sweetness than I was greeted with.
Seriously thirst-quenching and mineral-drive from start to finish, showing pink grapefruit, peach, green apple, white flowers, a hint of pineapple and mango. Not in any way cloying. Crisp, with a good heft of acidity, reminding me very-much of the better Chenin Blancs coming out of the Loire.
This is quintessential summer wine if ever I’ve tasted one!
I think the same thing that happened Riesling has occurred with Chenin Blanc, in that it’s developed a reputation as being inherently sweet. The beauty of this wine is that I think it will share much of the same versatility with food as the drier styles of Riesling.
11.5% alcohol, so spicy Asian, Thai, or Indian food shouldn’t be a problem! I also think it would pair superbly with raw oysters, shellfish/white fish with freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice, pork, seafood pasta with a white sauce, and soft/delicate cheeses..
$17 (or 12 for $15.33) – Available from Rendez-vous winery.com