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Vouvray “voo-vray”, is both a wine (Chenin Blanc) and a
region, similar to how Champagne is the namesake of the region it comes from.
Known for its grandeur old world beauty and rustic chateaus, its wines reflect
the regions romantic and traditional style.
The Loire valley, spaced between Champagne and Bordeaux,
sits in the mid to upper left of France. It runs along the longest river in
France, the Loire, from the coast of the Atlantic ocean, inland toward
Vouvray is known for its Chenin Blanc that comes in a
variety of styles, still and sparkling, dry to sweet. Although they also grow
the largest variety of grapes in the Loire, there is nothing they take pride in
more than their Chenin Blanc.
Wine has been being made in Vouvray since the Middle Ages.
Back then, the Catholic church had control over the vineyards that were at monasteries.
In the 1500s and 1600s, it was the Dutch merchants who fell in love with
Vouvray and planted plenty of it in order to sell in Paris and London.
Sparkling Vouvray started to gain its place in the 1700s and has been a focus
EXPLAINING THE LOIRE
The Loire valley has more than 70,000 hectares of vines and
is home to over 60 appellations. Luckily, the French have been kind enough to
split it into four sections in order to help differentiate climate, soils, and
styles of wine. Such a large wine region can be confusing and explaining
Vouvray correctly means understanding more of the Loire valley. The entire
Loire valley is known for its diversity in styles and grapes and the unique
minerality that shines through the taste of the wines.
Pays Nantais – The westernmost section of the Loire, hugging
the Atlantic coast, with a cool coastal climate. Melon de Bourgogne is what
this region is known for, which tends to be a favourite of many Muscadet
Anjou-Saumur – Considered the left Middle Loire. While most
of the grapes grown throughout the Loire are white, this is where we start to
find some reds. Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay are grown here. This
area is known for its Cremant de Loire, a regional appellation recognising the
sparkling wines from the Loire. The Chenin Blancs here tends to be
fuller-bodied with a slight smokiness to the palate.
Touraine – Home of Vouvray and the right half of Middle
Loire. This region has the most varieties of grapes grown in the Loire. Chenin
Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Malbec, and Gamay. However,
Vouvray is known almost exclusively for its Chenin Blanc.
Centre – This easternmost Upper Loire region grows Sauvignon
Blanc, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Chardonnay and has a similar climate to Burgundy.
This is not only the original home of Sauvignon Blanc, but also home to
arguably the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world from Sancerre.
Medium straw (for sparkling wines) all the way
to deep gold (for aged sweet Moelleux)
Still or sparkling
Dry and minerally, to fruity and succulently
sweet, depending on the style. Flavours of lemon, apple, pear, honey, and
Styles of Vouvray
Sparkling: Most often, you will see sparkling Vouvray. Here
the methode traditionnelle is used,
the same method used for making Champagne. Still wine goes through secondary
fermentation in the bottle, creating a sparkling wine.
Common sweetness levels
Brut - Dry (you will often see this style from
Demi-Sec - Sweet (you will often see this style
from warmer vintages)
Still - Less often, you will see a still
Sec - Dry (high minerality, you will often see
this style come from cooler vintages)
Tendre - Off-dry (more of a fruity profile than
Demi-Sec - Sweet (noticeably sweet, often with flavours
of sweet or candied apple)
Moelleux - Very sweet (a dessert in itself, very
sweet with flavours of candied apple, pears, and ginger. You will see this come
from warmer vintages)
how do i find a good vouvray?
Everyone has a different taste in wine and the most
important thing in drinking wine is finding a wine that you enjoy. With the
many styles of Vouvray, there really is something for everyone. The uniqueness
and the wide range of flavours that one varietal can brings astounding, it is
highly suggested that you try them all.
Try a sparkling
Vouvray if you are celebrating a special occasion. Though, never limit your
sparkling wine consumption strictly for special occasions, although bubbly
makes everything more fun. Sparkling wine, especially Vouvray, is an excellent
partner for salads and light seafood dishes. A sweet sparkling Vouvray is an
excellent pairing or substitute for dessert.
Try a still Vouvray
if you are looking for the perfect afternoon accompaniment. What is often
deemed as a “Porch Pounder”, a nice chilled glass of sweet Vouvray is the
perfect pairing for an afternoon on the porch. As with the sparkling Vouvray, a
dry Chenin Blanc goes well with salads and light seafood dishes.
Dry or sweet…Well, that is up to you! If you have any
questions about the style of Vouvray you are buying, ask the clerk at your
local wine shop.
Can I age Vouvray?
Yes! In fact, Vouvray ages very well. Chenin Blanc has
naturally high acidity, so most of these bottles can age up to five years.
Those with especially high acidity and those that are still and sweet can
sometimes age successfully for decades.
While many of us may lack the self-control to sit on a bottle
for more than a year, it is well worth the wait to hide away a bottle of
Vouvray for one, two, three, or four decades!