Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Moelleux Selection Grains Nobles 1989
I read somewhere recently that, given the fact that you only get one shot at life, and you never know when your time is going to be up, that you should drink the good stuff first.
It is a mantra I think I can sign up to.
I therefore apologise in advance if, during the course of 2023, I continue to pull bottles of 1989 and 1990 Vouvray from the less frequently visited racks of my cellar for ‘discussion’ on Winedoctor. Only those I have not previously featured in my Weekend Wine slot of course (and there have been a few over the years – I don’t think I have really had much of a problem with ‘drinking the good stuff’). Those cuvées I have pushed into the limelight before I shall dispatch without ceremony.
So here goes with another one.
I think am at a point where I have nothing new to say on the 1989 vintage in Vouvray (indeed, you might argue I reached this point a long time ago).
In short it was a great vintage which produced a slew of high-quality wines which, at the moelleux end of the spectrum, were largely built from passerillé rather than botrytised fruit. They therefore have a paler colour, more tension and a greater sense of purity (and perhaps I can say typicity) than the wines of the 1990 vintage, which tend to display darker colours and more botrytis influence.
It was a vintage which allowed Philippe Foreau and Noël Pinguet to cement in place their positions at their respective domaines, and which also provided some fanfare for two relative newcomers, the Champalou family and Bernard Fouquet. These are the four domaines always mentioned in the context of this vintage, although it is only fair to note that other vignerons were turning out brilliant wines without receiving an appropriate share of the limelight, the late François Pinon being the most notable.
More detail than this can be found in Liquid Gold Episode 2, featuring wines from the 1989 vintage, including details on the complicated portfolio of moelleux cuvées made by Philippe Foreau, Noël Pinguet and François Pinon.
Having said that this is a vintage defined by passerillage, it would be incorrect to say that 1989 was a vintage entirely devoid of botrytis (so perhaps I do have something new to say on this vintage after all). This much is evidence from this week’s Weekend Wine, the 1989 Vouvray Moelleux Selection Grains Nobles cuvée, from Domaine des Aubuisières. This is one of the cuvées with which Bernard Fouquet announced his arrival in the appellation, and as the name suggests it is focused on a small harvest of grains nobles, in other words individually botrytised berries.
In the glass it displays a deep and burnished hue which feels right for a botrytised cuvée. The aromatics are nothing short of fabulous, combining a sense of fresh vivacity with a rich and evolved maturity. I find notes of dried oranges, toasted almonds, black tea leaves and caramel, freshened up by tobacco and mint complexities. Beautifully textured on the palate, even at over thirty years of age it feels polished and complete, with a rich body of caramelised and toasted peach, with black tea leaves mirroring the nose, spiced with white pepper. It possesses a rather restrained energy at first, but in the middle the complete and seamless poise gives way to a driven freshness and bright acidity. This has fabulous breadth and poise, only yielding to a grained density at the very end. A brilliant showing at this age, and great length too; there is no rush to drink this great, slowly maturing Vouvray. The alcohol is 13%. 97/100 (16/1/23)
Read more in:
- My detailed profile of Domaine des Aubuisières
- Liquid Gold Episode 2, featuring the 1989 vintage in the Loire Valley
- My guide to Chenin Blanc