Saturday, August 31, 2019

Vouvray, My Summer's Last Hurray!

Labor Day is around the corner, and the glorious warmth of summer days will soon cool into a burst of fall colors. But today I shall enjoy basking in the sun, sipping a glass of chilled Vouvray Sec, while poring over wine literature.

Vouvray, nestled in the heart of the Loire Valley, is an Appellation d'origine Contrôllée (AOC) that is dedicated almost exclusively to Chenin Blanc. This single grape however is extremely versatile. It is high in acidity and sugar, which makes for a crisp white wine with a nice body and mouthfeel. It can be completely fruit-forward and great for easy drinking. In the right terroir, such as Vouvray, it can also have interesting minerality, adding layers of complexity that is well sought after by wine collectors.

Vouvray in Loire Valley
In Vouvray, Chenin Blanc manifests itself in different styles of wine - from sparkling to still, from dry to sweet!

Sparkling Vouvrays are mostly made in the Champagne method (or traditional method), but you can find a less bubbly version made in the ancient method under the label "pétillent naturelle" or "pet-nat." (The difference between the two methods and among others as well is a topic that deserves its own blog post.) Sparkling Vouvrays are typically Brut (dry) or Demi-Sec (slightly sweet).

Still Vouvrays, which is what I normally drink, can range from Sec (bone-dry), Tendre (off-dry), and Demi-Sec (slightly sweet) to Moelleux (sweet or dessert-style).

2012 Foreau Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec
On this lazy summer afternoon, I popped open a bottle of 2012 Philippe Foreau Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec. 2012 was a challenging year in Vouvray as fluctuating weather conditions ended in a wet harvest season. Even then, the Foreau Sec was quite tasty.

On the nose, I got pear and honey, a winning combination for aromatics. While crisp and dry, I could taste apricot and honey mixed in with salty minerality. It was quite a pucker with the high acidity but well-balanced with medium-full body. The pucker also lent itself to a lingering finish. It was completely satisfying, and I'd imagine great with seafood or any light meat.

A note about Foreau and Huet...

Normally, my wine club sends me Vouvrays from Domaine Huet, which is known as the gold standard for the appellation. If you have read the book, Wine and War, or my blog post about it, you would also learn that co-founder Gaston Huet fought the Nazis during World War II and was a prisoner of war for five years.

As it turns out, Philippe Foreau is Gaston's nephew. It is no wonder that this third-generation winemaker is a Vouvray powerhouse in his own right. His Vouvray Sec was absolutely delicious and fitting for my summer's last hurray. I can't wait to get my hands on his sparkling wines and Moelleux, which will be the perfect celebratory wine for the holiday season.