Chenin blanc is native to the Loire Valley of France, and is found in most of the world’s wine-growing regions, albeit in small parcels. It is often used as a kind of workhorse grape, for making somewhat industrial bubbly wines, or inexpensive table blends. But the Okanagan Valley has some fine results for chenin blanc, such as the pioneering efforts at Quails’ Gate Winery. The Inniskillin Discovery Series Chenin Blanc ($15) is a great example of the possibilities. Hints of honey and green grass (something we don’t smell a lot these dry days) and some dried fruit aromas are graced with ample acidity, and it all ends in a crisp finish. You can settle the Duffy versus PMO issue over the second bottle, just before sitting down to dinner.
One of the most iconic, revered even, wineries in Australia is Henschke. Their Hill of Grace is a wine for the ages. But these folks know wine is meant to be enjoyed in the moment, too, not only in a seminar room. The Henry’s Seven ($47) is a shiraz, grenache, marato, and viognier blend that is superbly easy to drink, and absolutely bursting with fresh, dark berry fruit, licorice, and some fresh-rubbed rosemary. At this price, it is a bit of a bargain, although obviously this is not your everyday go-to bottle. Why not save it for a special occasion, like when you finish your House of Cards marathon, and do prep for the Hannibal marathon.