Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Brut NV
In the world of Vouvray I have long had Bernard Fouquet of Domaine des Aubuisières on the top tier of the podium. Regular readers will, I suspect, already be well aware of this. Bernard made his mark in the 1989 vintage, bottling a number of high-quality sweet wines which took advantage of everything that exalted vintage offered. He followed up with the brilliant 1990 vintage, and I am still enjoying drinking various cuvées from the 1995, 1996 and 1997 vintages which are brilliant now, at more than twenty years of age.
Vouvray is not just about sweet wines though, and Bernard also makes very fine dry (or dry-ish in the case of Cuvée de Silex) and sparkling cuvées as well. I have, I confess, on occasion been guilty of overlooking these latter cuvées in times past. I drink a lot of sparkling Vouvray at home, focusing on Vincent Carême and François Pinon above most others, with a smattering of wines from the Champalou family, Matthieu Cosme and of course Philippe Foreau (although the slow pace of releases here means in the past decade I have only drunk Philippe’s Réserve cuvée in three vintages, 2002, 2005 and 2007). There are still a few old bottles of Domaine Huet buried in my cellar as well. Bernard, however, has been somewhat overlooked, not because the wines aren’t good (they are), simply because the wines and I just haven’t crossed paths that often.
This changed a few weeks ago. First, Bernard sent me some samples, including a bottle of his non-vintage sparkling Vouvray Brut. Well, I say they were sent by Bernard; to be precise it is perhaps more likely that they were sent by Charles Lesaffre, the young associate who is gradually taking over the running of Bernard’s business, and who was largely responsible for managing the 2020 harvest. I tasted it and was impressed; sufficiently so to hit the internet and tracked down a merchant selling it – by the case, as it happens. A few days later a dozen bottles arrived on my doorstep. I probably don’t need to provide any further details. Pop! Pop!
There is an inherent problem with writing about non-vintage wines (which is why I tend to avoid it) because it can be impossible knowing whether the wine I am writing about is the same wine that you might have in your glass, but if you buy a bottle today it is very likely the same as this most recently released cuvée. It is a blend of two vintages, 85% from the 2017 vintage, vinified in cuves, and 15% from the 2016 vintage, vinified in five-year-old barrels. In the glass the Non-Vintage Vouvray Brut from Domaine des Aubuisières has a polished, straw gold hue, and despite a good pressure behind the cork it has a very gentle bead in the glass. Aromatically it presents a nose of beautifully fragrant fruit, perfumed with bitter orange zest and honeysuckle, as well as crushed white chalk, chamomile, white freesia and white peach. This cuvée is generally made using purchased fruit, rather than grapes from Bernard’s own vineyards, yet it has no shortage of aromatic intensity. The palate is full and texturally rich, enough suggest a little dosage even though the true figure here is declared as less than 4 g/l, and the flavour profile follows the lead of the nose with complex and bitter Chenin character, lightly dried fruits and minerally smoke all driven through by a delicate acid cut. This is a very complete style, classically Vouvray, with notable length in the finish. A success. 92/100 (25/10/21)
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