Voila Vouvray

At the age of 21, I became a food server at a soon-to-open restaurant called ‘Bobby McGee’s’. The restaurant became a very popular night time destination for the young college set who loved to dance to loud, thumping disco music so popular at the time. The restaurant was located in the Southern California town of Brea.

The best part about my experience there was the first 3 weeks of intense training on how to become a good food server at such an upscale location.

Even better was the fact that we got to sample all the food and wine we would be serving! One of the wines we served was Vouvray. It was the first white wine I remember enjoying as a young adult.

We served a vintage bottled by Barton & Guestier.

Vouvray (“voo-vray”) usually is at its peak of flavor after 3 to 5 years. Its flavors offer a ripe, flattering feel, with creamed pear, ginger and quince flavors, backed by well-embedded acidity and a lingering mineral hint on the finish. The wine flirts with an off-dry feel overall. Off-dry means it has a touch more sweetness to give the wine a fruitier profile. But it stays refreshing and focused, displaying a pleasant fennel echo.

Vouvray is a white wine made with Chenin Blanc grapes that grow along the banks of the Loire River in the Touraine district of France.

Vouvray Wines range in style from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, each with its own distinct character. Regardless of style, Vouvray is loved for its delicate floral aromas and boisterous taste that will pucker your lips and make you immediately wish for another sip.

The optimal age for the wine is 5 years from bottling. In their youth, Vouvrays are characterized by aromas of acacia blossom, quince and green apples. Over time these evolve into tertiary aromas of honeysuckle, quince and lanolin. According to some critics, in its first few years, Vouvray can be unapproachable and unforgiving. It only begins to open up and relax into drinkable maturity after five years or so.

One French wine critic said that, “Vouvray is the flagship wine of the Chenin Blanc grape. Few wine regions in the world use Chenin to the same extent, and none highlights the variety's organoleptic qualities with such focus and impressive diversity.”

The Touraine district, where many of the best chenin vineyards are located, is equidistant between the Atlantic Ocean, 140 miles away, and the northern Massif Central hills of central France. As a result, the climate there falls somewhere between maritime and continental climates.

Maritime climates are found commonly in regions located near oceans, or other large bodies of water which act as temperature moderators. Maritime climates are characterized by warm (but not hot) summers, and cool (but not cold) winters.

Continental climates are characterized by strong temperature variations from day to night and between the seasons. Continental climates tend to be found in the interior regions of large landmasses.

Throughout the Touraine, the better vineyard sites are those blessed with free-draining soils rich in the calcareous rock for which this part of the Loire Valley is famous. The local winemakers maintain that it’s as vital to the style of these wines as the Chenin Blanc grapes they are made from.

Although Vouvray is a town situated on a plateau, a number of nearby streams interrupt the flow of land, creating shallow valleys with sheltered south-facing slopes. It is on these slopes, around the northern side of the town, that the most prized vineyard sites are located.


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