The mere mention of Vouvray confuses a lot of wine drinkers who aren’t familiar with the Old World tradition of labeling wines by region instead of varietal. Just as Burgundy is code for Pinot Noir, Vouvray almost always means Chenin Blanc, although other grapes such as Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc, and several reds are represented as well.
Chenin Blanc can be dry, off-dry, sweet (all three being terms that refer to the wine’s level of residual sugar), or even sparkling, and because so many producers don’t indicate the wine’s style on the label picking a Vouvray can be a bit of a guessing game.
Wine Geo Top 5 Vouvray Picks
Our picks include several different styles. By the by – if you’ve sampled a Chenin Blanc from, say, California or South Africa and found it wanting, give the grape another try via a bottle from the Loire Valley. We can almost guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
1.Saget Pères & Fils Chenin Blanc, 2012 – $13
In many ways, this wine epitomizes a traditional Vouvray. There is a good balance between acidity and sweetness, the aromas of acacia, almond, honey, lemon, Gala apple, and wet stone are well integrated, and each sip is both lithe and well rounded, filling your mouth without feeling fat or flabby.
2.Caves des Producteurs du Vouvray “Les Lys” Chenin Blanc, 2012 – $17
At $17, this wine is a comparative steal, probably because the majority of online retailers include little to no information about Les Lys, leaving buyers to fend for themselves. A little knowledge can go a long way – in this case, knowing that this bottle is lively, with hints of lemon, honey, pear, peach, and a flinty finish, means that you get to enjoy one heck of a satisfying Chenin Blanc at an even more satisfying price.
3.Philippe Foreau Vouvray Brut Cuvee, 2010 – $39
Foreau’s vintage sparkling Chenin Blanc represents a single year’s harvest, the products of which sit on the less for at least 4 years. This lengthy resting period produces a wine this is sumptuous, complex, and elegant. The pear and apple aromas hint at an almost cider-like freshness while notes of smoke, chalk, and salty sea air offer depth, and the hint of bitterness that plays hide and seek on the palate has us coming back sip after sip.
4.Domaine Pichot Le Marigny Chenin Blanc, 2011 – $40
When we said that some Chenin Blancs can skew sweet we meant it, and this offering from Domaine Pichot is a perfect example of how delectable these sweet Loire Valley wines can be. There’s a push and pull here between the honeyed richness and the minerality and acidity; that contrast is exciting now, but it will be even more interesting as this wine continues to age.
5.Domaine Huët Clos du Bourg Premiere Trie Moelleux Chenin Blanc, 2008 – $84
A brilliant example of terroir, this wine does a beautiful job showcasing the stony soil in which it grows. In addition to the mineral notes that race through this wine from start to finish, there are hints of ginger, lemon oil, green tea, and candied apple, with definite evidence of the noble rot that makes some of the wines from this region so very special. It’s unusual to find a wine that starts drinking like a dry white but finishes like a dessert wine, but this one pulls double duty with aplomb.
*Vintage availability dependent on vendors. In most cases, descriptions are applicable for most vintages. Wines are chosen based on quality, availability, and consistency, so our readers can actually drink the wines we recommend.