Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vouvray - What Is it?

My friend Ed asked me the following question in response to my post on choosing a wine for Thanksgiving in which I mentioned my choice of a French Vouvray: "What is a Vouvray like? What is a good vintage and label for to try?" This is an interesting question.

Most people in the US don't have much knowledge of Vouvray or what they can do with it. I know other bloggers may want to chime in on this question. But I will take a stab at it. Vouvray, to my knowledge, is similar if not identical to Chenin Blanc. This very versatile grape is originally from the Loire Valley in France and is now grown in California and South Africa, among other places. It can range from sweet to dry depending on growing and harvest conditions. If memory serves me, Mary and I first tried Chenin Blanc with our good friends Alden and Maureen a few years ago. From there I researched it with my wine consultant at Villa Wines on Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park. In my experience with Vouvray, I have found a difference between the California Chenin Blanc and the French Vouvray. The California variety has a more flowery sweetness to it, a honey like taste with melon, apple and pear overtones. The French Vouvray has less sweetness and honey like reminders. Vouvray can go with mild to spicy dishes, seafood,and salad.

One of my discoveries is that it Vouvray goes well with Corned Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. It is a great compliment to the power of this holiday combo. We usually celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Florence and Dan in Brooklyn. I have made it a custom to bring a nice French Vouvray for dinner. I think Dan still likes to have a glass of imported beer with his meal.

I will leave the answer to the second part of the question as to vintage and label to other bloggers. I hope this was helpful Ed.


1 comment:

NYC Wine said...

You're right, Bob. Vouvray (named after the town near the city of Tours in the Loire Valley) is made from the Chenin Blanc grape in a number of styles. Dry wines, which are called "sec," can have a piercing acidity. They go very well with shellfish and seafood in general. "Demi-sec" on a bottle of Vouvray means that it is somewhat sweet. Many people prefer the mellowness of this sort of Vouvray. The third sort of Vouvray is called "Moelleux." These are sweeter than demi-sec wines but except in the greatest years are not nearly as sweet as Sauternes or German Beerenauslese.

In my experience the two greatest producers of Vouvray are Huet and Foreau. Foreau bottles his wines under the "Clos Naudin" designation. The two producers make many great wines that are typified by a mineral quality or "edge." Although some of their wines have become quite expensive, especially the Moelleux, they are worth trying and can keep for a long time. Some recent outstanding vintages for Vouvray are 2005 and 2002. 1997, 1996, 1995 and 1990 were also very fine.

I hope this answers some of Ed's questions.