Wine Of The Week: Lang & Reed Chenin Blanc

Lang & Reed’s Chenin Blanc, paired with the brand’s Cabernet Franc. Courtesy Lang & Reed

In Napa Valley, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are king. But Lang & Reed, a small winery in St. Helena in the heart of the valley, makes a strong case for looking for more left-field grapes. In their winery, they focus on Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc; two varietals rarely explored in the valley, but well worth enjoying. 

While these two grapes are tough to track down in Napa these days, this wasn’t always the case. In the 1980s, Chenin Blanc (a white grape most commonly found in the Loire Valley of France) bloomed across California. Over time, it fell out of fashion and now just a few acres exist in Napa Valley — reserved for winemakers who understand how exciting a great Chenin can be. 

Of course it was two former sommeliers, John and Tracey Skupny, who are carefully watching over some of the last few acres of Chenin Blanc in Napa. From it, they make a vivacious and vibrant white wine that’s lush with notes of crème brûlée and almond cake, but with a delicate florality, slight bitterness and twang of salinity that calms that subtle sweetness. $75

Kate Dingwall is a WSET-trained sommelier and spirits writer. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Eater,, and Food & Wine, and she pours wine at one of Canada’s top restaurants.

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