Feasting on Foreau, 2013
As I reach the end (for the moment at least) of a period of update and expansion of my coverage of Vouvray, during which I revisited now-familiar domaines and also discovered some new ones, it seems only appropriate that I turn my attention towards Philippe Foreau for a moment.
The Domaine du Clos Naudin, Philippe Foreau’s domaine, lies just up the road from Domaine Huet, and in terms of quality the two domaines continue to reign supreme within the appellation. Many have snapped at their heels over the years, Bernard Fouquet and Catherine Champalou were the original terriers of the appellation (and some would no doubt speak up for François Pinon as well), although in more recent years Vincent Carême has taken on this role, raising not only his own game but also that played by all those he educates and mentors across the appellation. Even so, for the moment at least, Domaine Huet and Philippe Foreau remain top dogs.
Despite my ready acknowledgement of his status within the appellation, I have written far less about Philippe Foreau than I have about Domaine Huet, its proprietors the Hwang family, long-term winemaker and doyen of the Vouvray appellation Noël Pinguet. The reasons for this imbalance are several. First, I have enjoyed turning up unannounced at Huet, and tasting the latest releases, whereas such unplanned attempts are firmly rebuffed by Philippe (or by his staff, at least, the man himself was always hidden from sight). It was only in more recent years, as I began to plan and organise my visits with more rigour, that I developed the foresight to arrange an appointment beforehand. Even then, sensing I might have some difficulty, I engaged the help of a friend more fluent in French than I am (not a difficult accomplishment, admittedly) to telephone and make the appointment on my behalf. This was a wise decision; what I hoped would be a simple two-minute telephone call turned into an argument about why I should be allowed to visit, as Philippe was busy packing for a forthcoming holiday. Eventually the appointment was granted, although only once assurances that I was (a) serious and (b) a fluent French speaker (well, one out of two ain’t bad) had been given. On the occasion of my visit Philippe turned out to be charming and entertaining, although quick to despair when I didn’t understand his French first time.