Americans, the creators of White Zinfandel, have become funny about fruity sweeter styled wines and it’s now seen as a social faux pas in many circles to admit to liking your wine in anything other than a bone dry style. Take Vouvray as an example, a wine that is widely available on the international market but whose quaffing and food flattering qualities are rarely appreciated outside of France. Vouvrays are delicious with the fiery foods of Louisiana are a refreshing respite from the hot humid days of summer here in the south.
Vouvray is the name of AOC appellation as well as the village around which it surrounds and it produces delicious wines ranging from the dry and austere to the richest dessert wines, as even excellent sparkling wines. Vouvray is made exclusively from Chenin Blanc, which has been grown in the region since the 4th century.
The siliceous-clay, and limestone-clay soils lie on top of tuffeau, the limestone used to build the many châteaux of the surrounding countryside. The cool climate insures good acidity, which is balanced by the distinctly fruity character of the Chenin Blanc, and the mineral qualities imparted by the soil. Good Vouvray is charming, firm, and delicate, exhibiting a nutty, floral, honeyed character whose rich flavor is balanced by great acidity and bracing minerality. It ranges in style from dry (sec), to sweeter (demi-sec) to it's most complex and age worthy sweet form (moelleux).
Vouvray can age beautifully for decades and has been known to remain in prime condition for more than a century. The wine develops richness and depth over time but will never lose its fresh and fruity character. Sparkling Vouvray shows all the qualities of the still wines but with an even more pronounced flavor of minerals. It is an excellent aperitif, but also an ideal sparkling wine to drink with a meal.
Domaine des Aubuisières has 25 hectares of vines planted with Chenin Blanc around Vouvray, just East of Tours. This wine is mostly fermented and matured in thermo-regulated vats although his more prestigious dry cuvées and all the moelleux wines are aged in oak. After alcoholic fermentation, the dry wines are aged upon their lees with regular stirring to add depth and complexity.
The Cuvée de Silex is Bernard Fouquet's entry level dry Vouvray and comes to us from one of our favorite importers, Peter Weygandt. Fouquet is regarded as one of Vouvray’s top producers and Robert Parker’s recently published 7th edition of the Wine Buyer’s Guide lists Bernard as an ‘outstanding’ producer along with Domaine Huet and Philippe Foreau. It comes from three different parcels of grapes, les Perruches, les Girardières and les Chairs Salées. The nose is enticing, a little floral with hints of honey and pears. On the palate, it's fresh with a taste of sherbet lemons - the fruit continues and it finishes with a crisp, balanced acidity. It's absolutely delicious now but will probably taste even better given a little time to develop. It was a great match with the Spicy Fish Cakes I paired it with last week.