>Instead of diving head first into the great unknown of French wines, I’m going to dedicate this first post on a wine I do know and like: Vouvray.
I always keep a bottle of Vouvray on hand because its one of my favorite whites, lovely to sip on a warm summer evening as Steve tends the grill, periodically sending wafts of fragrant smoke billowing out. I take a sip and close my eyes, and instantly my memory transports me back to when I first started drinking Vouvray, in the kitchen with my mother as we prepared dinner when I was in college. I was highly conscious of the respect she was granting me, that we were living through a rite of passage, and I stood taller, sipping with great appreciation, swelling with pride to be treated like an adult. It made this sweet wine all the sweeter.
Today my mother and I still enjoy sharing a nice cold glass of Vouvray as an apperitif as she whips up dinner in her farmhouse kitchen in the Loire Valley. Drinking Vouvray with her there feels particularly appropriate as it is made nearby in the town of Vouvray in the middle of the Loire region, near the city of Tours. The weather there ranges from extremely hot summers to extremely cold winters. Vouvray is made exclusively from Chenin Blanc grapes and the finished product can take different flavor profiles such as dry (sec), medium dry (demi-sec), medium sweet (moelleux), and even completely sweet (doux).
In the Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil raves about Vouvrays, saying “Most astonishing is how long a great Vouvray lasts. It would seem counterintuitive that a white wine could taste vibrant and luxurious after half a century or more, but the top Vouvrays can and do. Not surprisingly, these have always been collectors’ wines. Truly great Vouvray is rare, however. Far more Vouvray today is simply nice tasting commercial wine made by negociants.”
My experience with Vouvrays has really been limited to these inexpensive negociants bottles, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the balance of sweet and acid of this Loire white. I can usually find a bottle at local supermarkets like Kroger, Stop and Shop, or Whole Foods for $10. After reading Karen MacNeil’s description of expensive Vouvrays as an “extraordinary taste sensation… otherworldly in their vibrancy and richness,” I’m eager to experience a collector’s Vouvray for myself. But should you ever stop by for an apperitif, you can be assured that I’ll have a nice bottle of $10 Vouvray chilled and ready to pour.