Scotsman wine columnist Rose Murray Brown picks out 12 great chenin blancs for the summer to suit any budget.

Chenin blanc is the ultimate summer grape. Its versatility offers myriad drinking styles from light, crisp aperitif, to richly oaked to delicately sweet; from 30 wines tasted – here are our favourite 12 to suit all budgets.

Crisp, light quaffers

Western Cape, South Africa: Cambalala Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014
Don’t expect much depth of fruit for this price, but you get fresh apple and pineapple flavours and zestiness. It claims to have a touch of viognier and chardonnay to add aroma and body.
£3.79, Aldi

Western Cape, South Africa: Waitrose Fairtrade Chenin Blanc
The best supermarket chenin blanc in our tasting – clean, crisp and dry with citric aromas and a touch of honey on the palate. This was fresh, easy and versatile.
£5.99, Waitrose

Dry and fruity

Coteaux du Vendomois, France: Le Carillon de Vendome ‘Cocagne’ Chenin Blanc 2015
Anyone who normally enjoys Vouvray Sec should try this fascinating newcomer. There are lovely, honeyed aromas, initially rich melony fruit refreshed by a blast of acidity like an electric current across the palate, and it’s a good length for the price – a very characterful chenin.
£8.50, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com

Piekeniersklooof, South Africa: The Tea Leaf Chenin Blanc 2014
Our tasters enjoyed this unusual chenin with its pear and pineapple flavours, creamy texture and a distinct hint of tea. It’s made naturally, using wild yeasts, from 70-year -old vines entwined with old tea plants at high altitude (750m) where both plants vie for nutrition; from up-and-coming maker Donovan Rall.
£12, Woodwinters, Bridge of Allan & Edinburgh; Noel Young Wines, Cambridge

Western Cape, South Africa: Devil’s Peak Limited Edition Chenin Blanc 2015
Tasters liked its vibrancy, freshness and fruity notes. It ticks the box for those looking for an attractively dry easy-drinking chenin blanc with a delicate steely feel. Made by Cape winemaker Marinda Kruger-Van Eck, it punches above its price level.
£9.99, Virgin Wines, www.virginwines.co.uk

Franschhoek, South Africa: Allee Bleue Chenin Blanc 2014
Appealing to those who like chenin blanc with vanilla hints and a light creamy palate, this has sundried fruits, dried mango and zesty pineapple undertones. Oak comes from half the fermentation time spent in 400-litre oak barrels; grapes are sourced from cool coastal Walker Bay and inland Franschhoek.
£9.99, Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh

Rich and textured

Swartland, South Africa: Terre Brûlée 2013 Vincent Careme – STAR BUY
Frenchman Careme is now making wine in both France and his wife Tania’s home country, South Africa. This debut Cape chenin blanc from 40-year-old vines on granite soils has striking minerality, a generous mouthfeel, honeyed creamy notes, spicy hints and a fresh finish. Very good.
£10.95, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com

Swartland, South Africa: Mullineux Kloof Street Chenin Blanc 2015
Another Swartland chenin blanc from 40-year-old vines, this is made by Chris and Andrea Mullineux, who are based in the delightful outpost of Riebeek Kasteel. There is improved depth of fruit than previous vintages I have tasted, but it’s still a little green. There are herby, melon and pear aromas, and it’s pithy and minerally, but it needs time.
£14.50, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com

Paarl & Swartland, South Africa: Tim Martin ‘Chad’ Chenin Blanc 2014 – STAR BUY
New producer Tim Martin sources from 30-year-old dry-farmed vines in Paardeberg, using the traditional method (basket press and wild ferment) and ages in 2,000-litre Austrian oak. This would suit those who like rich, mealy, leesy, characterful oaked chenin blanc. Chad is the vineyard name; serve with pork or chicken.
£18.99, Fine Wine Co, Edinburgh; Kirkness & Gorie, Orkney

Loire, France: Savannieres ‘Fides’ 2012 Eric Morgat
There’s a massive leap in price for this fascinating barrel fermented chenin with rich, mature buttery aromas, honeyed maturity and rich mouthfilling flavours from Savennieres’ schist soils.
£39, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com

Off dry

Loire, France: Vouvray Demi-Sec 2014 Chateau Moncontour
If you hate bone dry whites, this vivid, refreshing chenin blanc has a touch of sweetness and very fine acidic balance on the finish. Serve as an unusual aperitif or with apple tart.
£10, Marks & Spencer

Loire, France: Coteaux du Layon 2015 Chateau de Champteloup
Chenin blanc from Layon’s steep slopes, this has a delicate honeyed sweetness with fresh appley flavours, spicy undertones and a refreshing acid balance, stopping it tasting cloying. Serve with pork or a cheese platter – it’s good value. n
£8.99, Majestic Wine

• Join Rose’s French Wine Series in Edinburgh starting 8 September from £42, www.rosemurraybrown.com

About The Author

Rose Murray Brown

Rose Murray Brown is one of only 323 Masters of Wine worldwide and is the only one to host wine courses and regular wine tastings in Scotland.

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