This last weekend I saw the magnificent performance of the opera Romeo and Juliette broadcast live via satellite from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. To my delight, the opera libretto stays true to much of Shakespeare’s original and beautiful prose.
After the opera, I celebrated the performance with a bottle of Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc. The grape varietal got me to thinking about one of Shakespeare’s quotes, A rose by another other name would smell as sweet. The saying is an often referenced from Romeo and Juliet and implies that the names are just labels and don’t distinguish a person’s true identity.
As I was enjoying this terrific wine I wondered: What is Chenin Blanc? It’s not often seen on a wine label. Chenin Blanc is the main grape variety grown in the Vouvray area of France – a small growing area near famous castles on the north banks of the Loire Valley in France. But the wine label will say Vouvray. It’s also called Pineau de la Loire or Pineau d’Anjou and that’s what will be on the label. And, it’s the most planted grape in South Africa where it is called Steen. It has been grown there since the 1600s.
Regardless of what it’s called, it’s an exquisite white wine – and, I must say, my favorite grape varietal. It’s dry, high in acid, just slightly oaked and rich in flavor. The Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc – also called Steen Op Hout (meaning Chenin on wood) is winner and at $14 a deal. Since its founding in 1989, the winery has been one of South Africa’s foremost wine producers. They produce a large variety of wines including their Faithful Hound label.
So, here’s to a wine by another name – Chenin Blanc! To me it’s definitely sweet!