Fizz Friday: Hip Hip Vouvray!

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One of the things I love most about going to wine tastings {in addition to the generous sipping opportunities, of course} is discovering a unique brand or bottle that I may not have discovered anytime soon on my own. Such was the case when I attended the “Summer Sparkling Wine: Alternatives to Champagne” event at a local wine bar a couple of weeks ago. As the name of the event suggests, the focus of the tasting was non-champagne sparkling wines {remember, a couple of weeks ago I hipped you to the fact that all champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are champagne}, so naturally the expected offerings of Prosecco, Cava, and American sparkling wines {I’ll be doing a tasting review of these soon!} were on deck.

But there was one particular bottle that stood out from the rest: the 2011 Domaine Pichot Sparkling Vouvray from France. What’s Vouvray [/Vo͞oˈvrā/], you say? You always ask the best questions, my dear!

Just as champagne is from the Champagne region of France, Vouvray is from the Vouvray region in the Loire Valley. The predominant grape varietal in Vouvray is the Chenin blanc grape, known locally as Pineau de la Loire {sounds so fancy, no?}. Vouvrays are made in both still and sparkling styles, and can be made in a rage of sweetness levels:

  • Sec: means “dry” with the lowest level of sugar {similar in sweetness level to “brut” champagnes}. If it a bone dry wine {similar to the “brut nature” champagnes} the label may read Sec-Sec which means, literally, “dry dry”
  • Demi-Sec: for Voyvray, demi-sec means off-dry with typically 4 to 12 grams of sugar per liter. Demi-sec champagne, by contrast, has 32-50 grams per liter, which is considerably sweeter.
  • Moelleux: French for “mellow,” Moelleux wines have 12 to 45 grams of sugar per liter {which is on par with the sugar levels of Demi-Sec champagne, as discussed above}
  • Doux: {also sometimes referred to as liquoreux , which means “liquor-like,” when the wine is closer to a syrupy sweet nature} the sweetest style of Vouvray with 45(+) grams of sugar per liter

The dry {sec}, off-dry {demi-sec}, and sparkling styles are created during the cooler climate years. In the years that are warmer {meaning the grapes get more sun and ripeness} however, Vouvray is made in the sweetness style it is renown for–the exceptional Moelleux wines. Typical vouvray flavors include lemon, fruit, and minerals, with some having flavors of apples and pears. The Moelleux vouvrays tend to have a rich, deep gold color with flavors of honey and caramel.


2011 Domaine Pichot Vouvray

2011 Domaine Pichot Vouvray

As the label states, the Domaine Pichot is made in the “méthode traditionnelle” style, which means it’s a reasonable expectation that it may have a tasting profile similar to champagne of white fruit flavors, floral scents on the nose; and a long finish. The Pichot definitely met those expectations.

The nose on this wine was really pleasant, but it was the finish that was particularly spectacular for me. It had a nice light-to-medium gold color, and had aromas of green melon and pear. The palate had this pleasant apple-per melange thing happening {sort of reminded me of a fruit cup!} with bright citrus freshness on the palate. The finish was so long, seductive, and enchanting that I was almost  tempted to smooch the bottle. No, no I didn’t actually kiss the bottle. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

After this first Vouvray foray {sorry I can’t stop with the rhyming} my interest has been completely piqued and I am intrigued to do more exploratory research. I plan on trying more sparkling vourays and the Moelleux and Doux styles as well. And when I do, you know I’ll give you all of the delicious details, sip-by-sip, right here. So, until next time…

Avoir un bon weekend! {Cheers to a great weekend!}