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This fruity $15 South African chenin blanc pairs well with light fare

FROM LEFT: Backsberg Chenin Blanc 2022; Pépin Rouge No. 04; Mai Vino Rosé Wine . (Scott Suchman for The Washington Post)

Innovative packaging, cutting-edge winemaking and good ole traditional value highlight our selections this week.


Backsberg Chenin Blanc 2022

(2.5 stars)

Western Cape, South Africa, $15

South Africa is known for delicious, affordable chenin blanc. This fine example from Backsberg offers abundant flavors of ripe apricot and kumquat, with some pear and lemon zest. Great on its own, it’s a good partner for lighter fare. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent. Bottle weight: 462 grams (Light).

Imported by Marquee Selections. Distributed locally by DMV Distributing and Well Crafted Wine & Beverage Co.

Pépin Rouge No. 04

(3 stars)

France, $23

Pépin is a line of natural wines imported by Terres Blanches Wine Merchants, a Virginia-based firm specializing in small wineries that farm organically or biodynamically. Made outside the traditional appellation system, they are labeled Vin de France and without a vintage date. The Rouge comes from Languedoc, and is a blend of syrah and carignan, with a touch of the white grape muscat d’Alexandrie to give it some aromatic lift. It’s earthy and spicy, with dark fruit flavors and energy on the palate. The diagram on the label suggests a delicate balance, and the winemakers have succeeded in achieving it. The wine is also made without added sulfur, though this is not mentioned on the label. Certified Demeter biodynamic. ABV: 13 percent. Bottle Weight: 762 grams (Heavy).

Imported by Terres Blanches Wine Merchants. Distributed locally by Prestige Ledroit Distributing Co. and International Cellars.

Mai Vino Rosé Wine

(1.5 stars)

Navarra, Spain, $27 for 1.5 liters

Mai Vino is a relatively new entrant in the field of alternate packaging for wine. It is the brainchild of Mai Vu, who wanted a wine to fit her lifestyle as “a young, single person with roommates.” She found it “difficult to justify buying a decent bottle of wine I wasn’t going to get back to.” Boxed wines stay fresh longer, but she felt the equivalent of four bottles was too much for an inquisitive drinker who wants to try different wines. So she adopted the box format into a convenient pouch that holds 1.5 liters, or two bottles. The format is eminently portable, takes less space on your counter or fridge shelf than a box. Her other innovation was to simplify the information on the package. This rosé from Navarra in Spain is light and dry. It’s a melange of untraditional red grapes for rosé, but it fits the bill with crisp, juicy flavors of strawberry and rhubarb for a slightly bitter finish. Organic and vegan. ABV: 13.6 percent.

Available online from Mai Vino and at retail in New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

Prices are approximate. For availability, check, and the websites of the wineries, importers or distributors.