Vouvray: still and sparkling white wines from the Loire
In the vast vineyard of the Loire Valley, Vouvray offers a great diversity of white wines. To the east of Tours, on the right bank of the Loire, the appellation is made into "sparkling" and "still" wines. This diversity is due to the particular climate and soils, as well as to the work of passionate winegrowers who adapt their work with Chenin to the early harvest. The AOC Vouvray, depending on the year, is then declined in dry, semi-dry or sweet white wines and in sparkling wines. The wines of the Vouvray appellation are also distinguished by their great ageing potential.
General presentation of Vouvray
The production area is located in the heart of the châteaux of the Loire, in Vouvray and 8 other communes of Indre-et-Loire. On the slopes of the right bank of the Loire, the Vouvray vineyard was created at the end of the 4th century by the monks ofMarmoutier. Here, it is the chenin blanc that reigns supreme, the noble grape variety of the region that is also called pineau de la Loire.
The AOC Vouvray belongs to the Touraine vineyards. It faces Montlouis, another beautiful local appellation. The vines are cultivated on 2,200 hectares and they benefit from a particular climate, favourable to the maturation of the Chenin grape. Depending on the sugar content of the grapes, the winemakers produce different wines. From dry to sweet, the range of Vouvray wines is rich: each stage of maturity gives a different wine. This makes it possible to satisfy all the amateurs.
When the years are early, the dry and semi-dry wines, also called tender, represent the terroir perfectly. When the summer is Indian, sweet wines are in the spotlight, thanks to the development of the famous "noble rot". These "still" white wines are sought after and have good ageing potential, especially the sweet wines of the best years which have a high sugar content. Sparkling wines are produced regardless of the quality of the harvest; they represent more than half of the production.
Characteristics of Vouvray
A terroir for four different white wines, but which unite certain common traits due to the Chenin grape variety, particularly in terms of the aromatic palette, which is largely dominated by fruit and acacia.
The Vouvray "fines bulles" or "mousseux" AOC wines have a deep yellow colour. The effervescence is more or less intense, always delicate. Their aromatic palette is most often acacia, apple, pear and dried fruit. They can be aged for 3 to 10 years.
Pale in colour, the dry Vouvray AOC, subtle and fresh, also offer a wide range of aromas, where we find acacia and pear. Roses and citrus fruits further enhance the bouquet, in which a mineral note can be detected. When mature, its dry white wines evolve towards smoky, grilled and honeyed notes. They age perfectly for 5 to 15 years.
Vouvray demi-sec, or soft, AOC wines also have a very fruity nose. They are often considered the best approach to the wines of the appellation, as they are balanced, soft and fresh, with a beautiful silky texture. They can easily be kept for more than 10 years.
The sweet wines of the Vouvray AOC are those which present the most beautiful potential of guard, that is to say several decades for the best vintages of the best wine growers. They too have the fruity aromatic palette that makes the reputation of Vouvray wines: pear, citrus, mirabelle plum, greengage, papaya, lychee. There are also notes of candied fruit, almond paste, sweet spices and acacia honey. Their colour is straw yellow in their first youth. When fully mature, a sweet Vouvray becomes amber.
How to taste a Vouvray
Because it offers a great diversity of wines, the Vouvray appellation can accompany a whole meal.
The sparkling wines of the AOC are perfect as an aperitif, with salmon bites for example. They also sublimate all desserts made of fruit, such as mousses and charlottes. These "pétillants" also accompany sweets with nougat or marzipan. They should be drunk very cold, at a temperature of about 8°.
Dry white wines can also be drunk as an aperitif. They also go well with all fish dishes, especially sole, turbot, salmon, sea bass or red mullet. Seafood such as clams or scallops are also a good option for a dry Vouvray. Serve it at a temperature of about 9-11°.
Semi-dry wines go well with fish, especially when cooked in a sauce, but they also go well with white meat and poultry. And they are perfect for exotic sweet and sour dishes. They too should be served at a temperature of 9-11°.
Finally, the sweet wines of the Vouvray appellation can be enjoyed as an aperitif with foie gras, as a dessert wine with candied or caramelised fruit, or with a cheese platter, especially if it includes Fourme d'Ambert cheese. They are best served at a temperature of 8-10°.