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In which country is there more chenin blanc planted than in the rest of the world combined?

A. South Africa

B. France

C. United States

D. New Zealand

A.

South Africa accounts for 53% of the world’s total planted acreage of chenin blanc. France grows 28%, primarily in the Loire Valley, and together the U.S. and Argentina split another 15%. For centuries chenin blanc was (and it still remains) South Africa’s most planted grape. Sometimes known there as steen, it was one of the first grapes to arrive on the Cape in the1650s. Historically, far more white grapes than red were grown in South Africa—a reflection of the past importance of cheap South African “sherry” and brandy which were based on white grapes that could be grown at astronomical yields (and consequently little flavor or complexity). Chenin blanc is also able to retain acidity relatively well in hot climates. Lots of South African chenin blanc is pleasant and simple at best. But treasure troves of old chenin blanc vineyards can still be found, and many young winemakers are dedicated to saving these old vineyards and making amazingly delicious wines—both dry and sweet—from them.

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