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Richard Dudley Craig declares this Vouvray Sec to be a "smashing summer wine". 

I recently attended an importer’s portfolio tasting at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels Seven Dials, a terrific wine bar/restaurant in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden. Amongst the very impressive offerings, I zeroed in on a bottle Vouvray Sec.
 
Vouvray sales are sluggish, due to the 80s legacy of mass-produced, simple, thin, off-dry wines. I seem to remember that, way back then, a bottle could be had for the princely sum of £2.39. Even now, the perception is of a mediocre, medium-dry (read: unpleasantly sweet) wine that doesn’t go particularly well with food. Happily, this is no longer the case. Quality has improved immeasurably, with many dedicated vignerons making a wide variety of truly superior wines. Pleasingly, prices haven’t quite caught up, so good value can be found - for the moment.


The Appellation d’Origine Protégée Vouvray is located in the Indre-et-Loire department, on the northern shores of the River Loire and10km east of the city of Tours. Mostly composed of 90 million year old Turonian limestone, with flint and fossils, the soil is perfect for white grape varieties. Over the years the area has been mined for stone to build the region’s numerous Châteaux; in the process, this has created deep, spectacular underground wine cellars, with the perfectly cool and stable cellaring conditions ideal for ageing high quality still and sparkling wines. The greatest and most expensive Vouvrays have the ability to age gracefully for several decades.


Despite being a one grape wine region (Arbois is permitted, though rarely seen), AOC Vouvray produces a wide spectrum of white wine styles; dry, sweet, still and sparkling, all made from 100% Chenin Blanc. Although adaptable, it is not the most charismatic of grape varieties, but what it really does possess is the ability to truly reflect the quality of the terroir in which it is grown. The soil, altitude, aspect, climate, micro-climate and - of course - the farmer’s skill are all critical when cultivating Chenin Blanc. The wine lies in the maker’s hands.
?If you are interested to discover what a very good French Chenin Blanc tastes like, look no further than the father and son winemaking team of Jean Claude and Didier Aubert. Their current vintage 2016 Vouvray Sec is unoaked, with the bright, vibrant fragrance of Bramley apples, lemon sherbet and fresh herbs. Starting out dry and delicately balanced, with succulent apple and green grape flavours, there is the merest touch of sweetness on the (very pleasing) finish, with more than enough acidity to offset any bad memories from the decade that gave us shoulder pads, legwarmers and big hair. It will pair quite brilliantly with many summer dishes, all sorts of vegetable salads, poultry and seafood and, most appropriately, lovely Loire goat’s cheeses such as Sainte-Maure, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre or Valencay.
 
It’s time to forgive and forget, and to give this smashing summer wine the respect it deserves.

Available for £13.75 from Yapp Brothers at www.yapp.co.uk or 01747 860 423 or from Authentique Epicerie & Bar at authentique-epicerie.com or 020 3609 6602

Richard Dudley Craig, Wine Consultant and Importer

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