Vouvray: The Flagship Chenin Blanc
The Loire Valley has been producing wines ever since the Romans settled the region back in the 1st century. By the 5th century, Loire had flourished into a premier viticultural region whose wines were highly prized throughout the ancient world. During the Middle Ages, it is interesting to point out that the wines of Loire were more highly prized than their contemporaries from Bordeaux.
Today I am joined by friend and fellow sommelier, Ivelisse Negroni. We are in the city of Tours to enjoy some of the region’s local wines. Whenever I am asked to recommend a sweeter white wine, Vouvray immediately comes to mind. However, though fruit forward, not all Vouvray is sweet. This “Right Bank“ wine ranges in styles from dry and austere to the richest dessert wines as well as excellent sparkling wines. Vouvray, “Pineau de la Loire,” as it is known to the French, is made exclusively from Chenin Blanc. So what makes Vouvray so special? It simply has a remarkably long life. Wines of quality that have been cellared for 30 years often show incredible freshness and liveliness.
Our first selection, Marc Bredif Vouvray 2010 is a very stylish wine. In the glass, this slightly effervescent wine is a light straw yellow. On the nose, it displays an intense fruitiness that is filled with notes of white flowers. The palate is filled with the flavors of apricots, nectarines, and honeydew, while the over all juiciness of the wine prevails. There is also a secondary trace of almonds that I found pleasant. Though the wine’s fruity characteristics prevail, it finishes dry and clean. The alcohol content is 12.5% with a price tag of $20.
“Marc Bredif is very nice on a warm summer evening,” Ivelisse flashed a quick grin as she spoke in her usual light tone. “This is an ideal match for white fish or sushi.”
“I particularly enjoyed this wine’s mouthfeel and found the finish to be lingering and pleasant,” I would even consider pairing it with baked ham.”
Our next selection, Francois Chidaine Les Argiles Vouvray 2011 is bright and lively in the glass. On the nose, it is filled with citrus fruits dominated by orange blossoms. There are also subtle herbal hints with a pleasurable nuttiness. On the palate, the mouthfeel is on the drier side with clean lines and fresh acidity. It is complex and filled with an array of minerals. The finish is long and fruity. It is 100% Chenin Blanc and from 40 year old certified organic vines from the Loire Valley. The alcohol content is 13.5% with a price tag of $25.
“Definitely a wine that will age gracefully,” I clearly displayed my pleasure with her selection.
Our last wine, Domaine S.A Huet 2007 is more dry than medium and is wonderfully concentrated. In the glass, its coloring is golden and depicts the “Old World” style. On the nose, the bouquet is filled with an assortment of citrus fruits with lemon and lime prevailing. There are also floral, green-apple, and mineral notes. On the palate, there are abundant flavors of honey, spice, lemon, and sweet pear. It is a wine that is bright and vivid in character. I also found it to be a well- integrated wine with an elegant and long finish. The alcohol content is 13% with a price tag of $60.
“Excellent wine,” Ivelisse flashed me a wide beaming grin. “Definitely pairs well with chicken, fish, and shellfish.. I especially enjoy it with scallops.
“I like the subtle nuances of this wine. One to sip and enjoy,” I nodded in agreement. I would share this fine 2007 on a quiet evening at home with that very special person.”
“For such an evening, I would pair Vovray with cheese,” Ivelisse paused on the moment to collect her thoughts. “I should think, Cabecou, Camembert, Crottin de Chavignot, and Livarot.”
“Is that a hint?” Ivelisse giggled softly.
But that my friends, is a different story …”