Vouvray is a French region of the Loire Valley located in the Touraine district just east of the city of Tours in the commune of Vouvray. The Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) is dedicated almost exclusively to Chenin blanc though the obscure and minor grape Arbois is permitted but rarely used.
The Loire river valley is the largest wine growing region in France and the second largest producing region for sparkling wines. Beginning at the city of Nantes just upriver from the Atlantic, it stretches about 600 miles inland through the Anjou-Tourraine region.
The region is known for two main white wine varieties: Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. For red wines, Cabernet Franc is king here.
When considering wines of the Loire, make your selections by vintage and style over variety and producer (as you would in a region like Alsace). Notable vintages for Loire Valley whites include: 2005*, 2009*, 2010*, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015*.
You will find four main styles of white wine in the Loire Valley.
Unlike some of it’s New World counterparts, Vouvray almost always has excellent acidity. The Loire river washes the vineyard sites with a layer of tartaric acid which imparts this quality on wines throughout the region. The ripping acidity can make younger Vouvray hard to drink but also means that that wines have outstanding aging potential. Acidity is a great preserver and softens the wine over time in bottle. Some Vouvray is aged for decades.
Vouvray is a late ripener and is often harvested in November. The residual sugar is often high from the time spend bathing in the sun. Sometimes the style is further enhanced by botrytis, or noble rot.
Even less expensive Vouvray has a very distinct nose with almost musty aromas that some compare to “damp straw”. “Honey and flowers” is also a common tasting note as these wines tend to have the rare ability to “smell sweet” even though physiologists tell us that this is impossible. The texture is also very distinct and notable as the wines tend to cling to the glass.
Some great Vouvray producers: Huet, Domaine d’Orfeuilles
Pairings: Try serving Vouvray with fresh fruit or fruit dishes or desserts