The underappreciated Chenin Blanc grape is a big hit in this gorgeous $20 wine from the Loire Valley, demonstrating that the French region is unparalleled when it comes to the white variety.

While Vouvray is the most familiar appellation for Chenin Blanc, the grape is grown throughout the so-called Middle Loire. In Saumur, it is mainly used in the sparkling Crémant wines for which the appellation is best known. However, some producers also make still versions.

One to try is the 2020 Saumur Blanc from Château de Villeneuve, a 25-acre property that farms organically and also produces red wines from Cabernet Franc under the Saumur-Champigny appellation.

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One bottle of Château de Villeneuve Saumur Blanc 2020

This white Saumur showcases everything there is to love about Loire Chenin Blanc — vibrant fruit combined with chalky minerality. The latter comes from the limestone soils that give the wine a texture and depth well beyond Chenins from most other regions.

This is a lovely dry wine that rivals far more expensive Chenins from Vouvray and other prestigious Loire appellations, including Montlouis and even the revered Savennières.

Initial notes of green apple, pear, mango, and pineapple are followed by bursts of orange and candied lemon on the long finish, where that mineral component adds a slightly saline and almost chewy quality. The wine spends a few months in large oak barrels.

Food pairings include all kinds of fish — from broiled and grilled to those in richer sauces. The wine will also enhance chicken and veal dishes and is wonderful on its own as an aperitif.

When considering the Loire Valley, most people think first of the Sauvignon Blanc wines, with their lively acidity, from such storied appellations as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé in the eastern Loire. The region’s Chenin Blancs are crisp but less aggressive, show different fruit characteristics, and are well worth exploring in their many styles that range from dry and off-dry to sweet and sparkling.

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