Vouvray (“voo-vray”) is a white wine made with Chenin Blanc grapes that grow along the banks of the Loire River in the Touraine district of France. Wines range in style from dry to sweet, and 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.
“Vouvray is Chenin Blanc, and to a certain extent, Chenin Blanc is Vouvray”
–Jancis Robinson, The Oxford Companion to Wine
Since Vouvray wines range quite a bit, it’s useful to know a little more about the different styles of Vouvray to identify what you like.
All About Vouvray
Vouvray Tasting Notes
Wines range in color from medium straw (for sparkling wines) all the way to deep gold (for aged sweet Moelleux). Typically, the aromas are moderately intense, delivering flavors of pear, honeysuckle, quince, and apple (green or yellow). Often the wines display subtle notes of ginger and beeswax – hinting at the presence of noble rot. In terms of flavors, these wines range from lean, dry, and minerally, to fruity and succulently sweet, depending on the style.
Styles of Vouvray
These days sparkling wines are the dominant style produced in Vouvray. Most are labeled as methode traditionnelle (and less so, Mousseux), which use the same winemaking method as Champagne. Occasionally, you’ll find delicately sparkling wines labeled as pétillant, which can be made with the ancient sparkling wine method, although this is very rare. Here are the common sweetness levels:
- Brut: Dry
- Demi-Sec: Sweet
- Sec: Dry (wines with less than 8 g/L of residual sugar). The driest style of Vouvray is typically bracing and minerally.
- Tendre: Off-Dry. Originally “Sec-Tendre,” meaning “tender dry,” these wines have a touch more sweetness to give the wines a fruity profile and a less austere style.
- Demi-Sec: Sweet. Noticeably sweeter Vouvray often with sweet apple and persimmon-like flavors.
- Moelleux: Very Sweet. The richest most concentrated Vouvray with sweet, creamy apple and pear notes and candied ginger flavors.
Looking to Buy a Bottle?
Vouvray wine price: In the US, you can expect to spend between $18–$25 for a decent bottle of Vouvray wine, either sparkling or still. On the high end, $35–$55 should afford you the very best current releases from great producers.
Pay attention to vintage when buying Vouvray: Loire is a cooler climate growing region, and the shoulder seasons of spring and fall can greatly affect the ripeness of Chenin Blanc. 2015, 2014, 2012, and 2009 were all good vintages. The 2015 vintage for Vouvray was excellent – you’ll find great wines across all quality levels and price points.
Aging Vouvray wine: The best producers make wines with such high acidity, that wines have been known to cellar well for several decades (or even longer). That said, most Vouvray we see in the market will age for about 5 years.
Other Loire Valley Chenin Blanc
Vouvray is located in Touraine, just outside the city of Tours, France and is part of the Middle Loire Valley wine growing area. Since Chenin Blanc is a major grape of this part of the Loire Valley, there are a few other regions worth exploring if you’re a fan of Vouvray:
A wine growing area located directly on the south side of the river. This region produces wines in a very similar style to Vouvray, and is a great alternative, especially on hallmark vintages, such as 2015.
Anjou and Côteaux du Layon
A larger region to the west of Vouvray that has a special focus on sweet Chenin Blanc and sparkling wines. For sparkling, Anjou Mousseux (the Blanc de Blanc version) and Crémant de la Loire both contain Chenin Blanc as a base. For sweet wines, the Côteaux du Layon makes stupendous sweet wines made with noble rot. Within Côteaux, there are a few sub-regions that produce the most expensive sweet Chenin in the world,, including Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux.
A Chenin Blanc produced in a style very unlike Vouvray using oxidative winemaking, which deepens the color, reduces the fresh floral characteristics, and adds a nutty, ripe apple flavor to the wines. Savennières may be an acquired taste for most, but the region has an ardent following and overall, produces exceptional quality wines.
Last Word: Beyond Vouvray
The Dutch were obsessed with the grape of Vouvray during the age of exploration and planted Chenin Blanc all over South Africa. Today, Chenin Blanc is the most planted grape in South Africa. You’ll find the best wines in this area are inspired by the styles from Vouvray and the greater Loire Valley. So, if you are a fan of this grape variety, this is a wine country that you’ll find fascinating to uncover on your journey to wine nirvana.
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