What is Vouvray?

Vouvray is the highest qualifier for white wine in the Anjou-Saumur-Touraine region. It is a white wine produced from Chenin Blanc grapes that grow on the Loire River banks in the French district of Touraine.

The Vouvray wines diversify in style, from dry to sweet and still to sparkling, each with its distinctive personality. Several wine territories in the world use Chenin to the same distinction. None wine shows the variety’s aroma and flavors with such direction and diversity.

Original photo by chrisada – Flicker, Originally from en.wikipedia; CC BY 2.0 – Chenin Blanc Grapes

History of Vouvray

Historians had revealed that viticulture existed in Vouvray since at least the Middle Ages when the Catholic Church preserved the vineyards. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Dutch merchants played an essential role in controlling many vineyards in the area. Rotterdam, Paris, and London marketed the production of the wines. With the wineries’ progress in the region in the 18th and 19th centuries, sparkling wine expanded its popularity.

The wineries built on tuff rocks allowed cool and insistent temperatures to make and store the wine, especially the sparkling Vouvray. In 1936, Vouvray achieved its AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) status, which includes the villages of Vouvray and seven nearby towns such as Rochecorbon Vernou Sur Brenne.

Production of Vouvray

Chenin Blanc is a locally distinguished white grape variety as Pineau de la Loire, characterized by its high acidity and is used to work sparkling wine, dry wine, and well-balanced dessert wine. Also, Chenin Blanc can find it outside the Loire, especially in New World wine regions such as the Napa Valley in California, the Columbia Valley in Washington state, Australia, and New Zealand.

The annual production of Chenin Blanc from South Africa far exceeds that of France. However, only the best South African Chenin Blancs possess texture stabilization or the aromatic depth of Vouvray.

The vineyards around Vouvray have produced quality white wines since the Middle Ages. Vouvray may be one of the most respected names in the Loire, and it sure is one of the most unusual, mostly when it comes to sweetness levels. Although your winemakers may use various official terms to denote your wine’s level of sweetness (Sec, Sec-Tendre, Demi-Sec, and Moelleux), rarely used on labels.

Getting Vouvray can be a kind of gamble. The only label term legally enforced here is Sec, which can appear on sparkling Vouvray labels when the wine has less than 8 grams per liter of residual sugar.

Vouvray’s location begins on the eastern edge of Tours and spreads through seven municipalities on the right bank of the Loire and along its tributary, the Brenne. It has ​​2,200 hectares.

In Vouvray, maritime and continental climates meet; it is generally calm, sunny autumns that favor the grapes’ ripening and allow sweet wine production. And the annual production is approximately 3 million liters, 52% of sparkling wine and 48% of still wines. Finally, it shows a density of 6,600 plants/ha.

Vouvray Description

The wines vary in color from medium straw (for sparkling wines) to deep golden (for sweet aged Moelleux). Generally, the aromas are cautiously intense, providing flavors of honeysuckle, pear, quince, and apple (green or yellow).

Vouvray wine usually shows subtle notes of ginger and beeswax, which inspires the presence of noble rot. In terms of flavors, Vouvray ranges from lean, dry, and mineral to fruity and succulently sweet, depending on the style.

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Appearance

The color ranges from straw yellow for sparkling wines to golden amber for aged sweet wines.

Smell

The young Vouvray usually shows notes of rose, quince, and acacia. As it evolves, it presents aromas of apricot, candied fruits, and honey.

Taste

The Vouvray wines are always fresh, although they can be opulent depending on the sweetness.

Types of Vouvray

Sparkling Wines

Today sparkling wines are the particular type produced at Vouvray. Many find themselves labeled professional tactic (and less so Mousseux), using the same winemaking tactic champagne.

You may occasionally come across sparkling wines delicately labeled as pétillant, using the old sparkling wine tactic, although this is not common. Standard sweetness levels are:

  • Brut: Dry
  • Demi-Sec: Sweet

Still Wines

  • Sec: Dry (wines with minor than 8 g / L of residual sugar). It is the driest type of Vouvray and typically invigorating and mineral.
  • Tendre: Off-Dry. Originally “Sec-Tendre,” which means “dry tender”, these wines maintain a sweeter touch to give the wines a fruity form and a tiny austere style.
  • Demi-Sec: it’s sweet. Sweeter Vouvray often with delightful apple and persimmon-like tastes.
  • Moelleux: Very sweet. The tastiest and most concentrated Vouvray with sweet and creamy apple and pear notes; with candied ginger flavors.

Pairing Food of Vouvray

Dry Whites

They combine with fish dishes with a lot of flavor such as seafood stew, monkfish flambéed in cognac) or dishes in white sauce; smoked salmon tagliatelle, soft cheeses.

The recommendation to serve is at 50-55ºF. It pairs well with any seafood and white fish with a white or butter sauce. It also goes with a green salad with a honey mustard dressing.

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Demi-Sec

Fish and white meat in creamy sauces: chicken livers and veal sweetbreads with morels; cheeses like Swiss Gruyère, Comté, Salers, or Reblochon.

You can try meaty textured white fish or chicken in a cream sauce, skillet pork chop with apricot or apple chutney, veal gizzards with morels.

Sweet

It works as an aperitif or with desserts based on apples, pears, nougat, or almond paste; blue cheeses such as Fourme d’Ambert, Roquefort, and Bleu d’Auvergne.

The sweetest style should be served very cold at 40-45ºF. Mix with apple, pear, and apricot desserts, such as apple pie or stone fruit pie. Or try crème brûlée.

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Sparkling

As an aperitif or as the perfect and more festive substitute for dry whites, they go well with cheeses as Brie, Brillat-Savarin, Saint-Marcellin, Beaufort, or Gruyère.

Serve at 45ºF, also consumed as a snack. It blends perfectly with goat cheese, especially with goat cheese from the Loire Valley.

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Vouvray’s Potential

The Dutch were fascinated by the Vouvray grape during the exploration age, and they decided to plant Chenin Blanc throughout South Africa. Presently, Chenin Blanc is the vastest cultivated grape in South Africa, and the best wines in this area are the styles of Vouvray and the great Loire Valley.

Vouvray wines considering their aging potential, have a considerable shelf life (10 years or more); Vouvray can improve with better appropriate storage conditions (in terms of temperature and humidity) in the deep cellars dug in the limestone slopes.