“The Central Valley is a vast, flat, extremely fertile, heavily irrigated tract of industrial farmland,” note Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson in the eighth edition of their “World Atlas of Wine.”
Not exactly high praise for a wine region.
But within this area in the center of California — known more for quantity than quality — are some AVAs whose wines should be on your radar. They include Clarksburg, which has long produced high-quality Chenin Blanc.
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Some well-known wineries in more prestigious regions like Napa and Sonoma like to source these Chenin Blanc grapes and turn them into very good, everyday wines that can be bottled in quantity with attractive price tags. One example is from Napa’s Pine Ridge; another is from Sonoma’s Dry Creek Vineyard, which has just released its 2021 Dry Chenin Blanc.
Dry Creek, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has always been inspired by wines from France’s Loire Valley, has been making its Chenin Blanc from the beginning — the only American winery, it says, to produce 50 consecutive vintages of the wine.
The grapes have been sourced for decades from the Wilson Ranch in Clarksburg, which supplies a number of wineries with Chenin Blanc and other varieties.
Dry Creek’s 2021 Dry Chenin Blanc is a light, fresh, and delicious summer wine fermented in stainless steel with alcohol at just 12 percent. Yellow and green apple, tropical fruit, and lime tastes are punctuated by subtle cinnamon and herb notes and a touch of cream on the finish — all of it coming into focus as the wine warms up a bit in the glass.
It’s an easy-drinking wine to enjoy on its own or with all kinds of lighter dishes. With a suggested price of $16 and almost 13,000 cases produced, it’s affordable and will be widely available.