Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Cuvée Alexandre 2003
After a break last week (I had been away for the weekend) this week my Wine of the Week returns with yet another sweet wine from the Loire, but here we have a wine which contrasts with the 1985 Bellerive Quarts de Chaume, my last wine, on a number of levels. Firstly, it is a very rich and exotic style, being a product of Europe's heatwave 2003 vintage. Secondly, this is a wine still in the first flourish of youth, with perhaps many years or even decades ahead of it. In fact, this latter thought was the main reason I went ahead and opened another of these bottles; I am still undecided whether these wines really do have what it takes to mature and blossom in the cellar, or whether they are so top-heavy that they will simply fall apart in a few years.
I first tasted this wine when I visited the Domaine des Aubuisières in 2004, sampling the full range in the company of Bernard Fouquet, although I had tasted earlier vintages which were once widely available off-the-shelf in the UK. The cuvée was created following a suggestion by Fouquet's UK importer, Demetri Demetriou of Grand Cru Wines Ltd, and was named after Demetiri's son, Alexandre. I know all this not so much because Bernard explained it to me on my visit, but rather because of subsequent communications with Demetri himself. In fact, I have even been furnished with a picture of the son in question, so I even know what the Alexandre after whom this wine is named looks like. On tasting it has always been seductive and quite luscious, and I was very taken with it; it should come as no surprise that I walked away with a six-pack after my visit in 2004. I next tasted it in the summer of 2005, when I wrote that it "Will go for years, maybe decades". But ever since there has been a little nagging doubt in the back of my mind that I might have been seduced by the texture of the wine, and not really paid full attention to the underlying structure which would perhaps better inform us of its ageing potential. I have noted that some other French wines from the 2003 vintage, not necessarily from the Loire, have shown some rapid development. It is clearly time to take another look at this one.
So what of the wine this time? Well, my second bottle of the 2003 Cuvée Alexandre is certainly showing some development when compared to the first as far as colour is concerned; this already has a deeper, richer hue than I recall from my tasting in 2005, when I thought the wine to have only a little more pigment than the corresponding Cuvée Silex, Fouquet's top quality dry Vouvray. The nose, however, is quite haunting, and again here it already shows some advanced development, although in some respects it still reflects the nose found two years ago. It is still brimming with aromas of tropical fruit, like the melon and pear previously noted, but now there are also rich notes of honey, biscuit and caramel. This all seems very deep and luscious, but also complex and rather evolved, although there were subtle notes of caramel on the endpalate when I last tasted it, and as a nuance this is a very attractive characteristic. On the palate it has freshness, although the acidity is rather low, and how this comes across is in part very dependent on serving temperature. It has a very forward, open and evocative style, rather ripe, rich, creamy and rounded, with low acidity. But there is liveliness too, and some vigour. But overall it has a full, broad nature, and is full of delicious tropical and candied fruit. It is very fine, although I am still uncertain as to how this will age. Many of the great wines of the Loire, and Vouvray specifically, age on the back of their acidity. With this wine the acidity seems low, although perhaps this is relative to the richness and texture, which is in abundance. So perhaps it is set up for decade or three, but I doubt it. This wine is already showing a lot of development for just two years since my last tasting, and I think I will try another within a year or two to judge which way this wine is going, and enjoy drinking them up if they are causing any worry. 19/20 (7/5/07)