Both of Chenin blanc’s parents identified

Thursday July 11 2019 by Vitisphere

In the Loire, Chenin covers 9,700 ha. In the Loire, Chenin covers 9,700 ha. - Photo credit : Patrick Touchais

Thanks for the scoop, Jean-Michel”, said a visibly satisfied Patrick Baudouin, speaking at the International Chenin Congress he spearheads. Like other attendees, Baudouin revelled in Jean-Michel Boursiquot's revelation during his presentation on the origins of Chenin blanc.

During a technical day event in the heart of the Anjou wine region in 2015, the famous ampelographer had already identified one of Chenin’s two parents as Savagnin. Jura’s star grape variety has birthed an extensive lineage including Sylvaner, Sauvignon and Petit Manseng. “These are all Chenin’s half-brothers (or sisters)”, quipped Jean-Michel Boursiquot, before announcing that he had continued his investigations into the second parent.

He then, modestly, put forward a possible avenue. In the light of his presentation, his hypothesis is fairly serious, and cross-referenced through molecular analyses. Apparently, Savagnin allegedly married Sauvignonasse to produce Chenin. “Upon observation, there are similarities in the shape of the leaf, and in the shape of the cluster” said the ampelographer. Sauvignonasse, AKA Sauvignon vert, Blanc doux, Cinquien and Friulano, can be found in Anjou, Touraine, Graves, Jura and Italy for instance.

The international congress thus brought to light one of the parents of the semi-orphaned Chenin, but it also recalled how the varietal, referred to by myriad other names, is known worldwide, primarily under the name Chenin blanc. The first written evidence of the grape variety includes Rabelais' writings in 1534. “Was he really referring to the same Chenin we're talking about today? No one knows. This is just an assumption”, stressed Jean-Michel Boursiquot, before listing its synonyms: Pineau blanc, Franc pineau, Pineau de la Loire, Pinot d'Anjou, Plant d’Anjou, Plant du clair de lune...

In the Loire, Chenin covers 9,700 ha. 



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