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François Pinon Vouvray Brut 2014

François Pinon Vouvray Brut 2014

I have a confession to make. I taste and drink a great number of sparkling wines from the Loire Valley, the details of which very often do not appear on Winedoctor. I suppose this might reflect, in part at least, a desire just to switch off from analytical thinking and the scribbling of tasting notes and instead to simply sit back, and enjoy the wine. Like a ‘normal’ person, as some who are close to me might say. After all, as what I drink at home is chosen largely on the basis of previous encounters, perhaps during a visit to the domaine, perhaps at the Salon des Vins de Loire, in other words through prior analytical thought and a scribbled note, why on earth should I do the same thing all over again?

On the other hand, I do have to ask myself whether this tendency to bypass such wines isn’t a symptom of a subconscious insouciance. While I might enjoy drinking them, perhaps deep down I feel people would rather read about grander white wines from Savennières, a still wine, sec or otherwise, from Vouvray, or the grandest of reds from Saumur-Champigny or Chinon. In other words, more ‘serious’ wines. Of course, such an attitude just doesn’t make sense. The sparkling wines of the Loire Valley are brilliant, not just as alternatives to Champagne (it is depressing that all sparkling wines are forever doomed to this secondary role in the minds of so many) but as individual wines in their own right. And from a good grower, like François Pinon, these wines can be pretty ‘serious’.

François Pinon Vouvray Brut 2014

The wine tasted here is a case in point. At first glance this 2014 Vouvray Brut seems like a pretty straightforward wine, made entirely from Chenin Blanc (of course), using the méthode traditionnelle, with a typical Pinon dosage of around 9 g/l. This particular bottle I bought just short of a year ago, so taking into account the time required to complete the first fermentation, and then to get the second fermentation underway in bottle, that leaves perhaps about 18 months sur lattes before it was disgorged, dosaged and then presumably allowed to rest for a while before it was sold. François likes to disgorge in stages though, typically about 1,000 bottles every three months, to give the majority of bottles the maximum possible time on the lees. So if you bought a bottle more recently the chances are it would have spent much longer sur lattes. Indeed, a bottle I tasted with François and Jules Pinon in Angers just a week or two ago had in fact spent 30 months sur lattes before disgorgement, about 40% longer than my bottle. I could see the difference, although both are delightful, and I would happily drink either. Which is probably a good thing, as I have more than a handful of bottles tucked away.

In the glass the 2014 Vouvray Brut from François Pinon has a rich golden hue, and a very prominent bead suggesting youth, with some quite fat bubbles at first, settling into a much finer bead with time. The aromatics kick off with smoke and minerals first, before yielding richer evolving notes of tarte tatin and poached pear. The palate is full and boasts a very creamy, voluptuous texture, the ripeness and sweetness of the fruit set against the gentle foam of the mousse, with just that softening 9 g/l dosage here to round it out, although the ripeness of the fruit must also be contributing. It feels beautifully balanced, with fresh acidity, lightly bitter apple and pear skin notes and some gently swirling crushed-rock minerals. And it is long, and energetic throughout. Overall, this is surely one of the best examples of sparkling Vouvray I have tasted from Francois, delicious but defined, and very true to both vintage (excellent for white wines) and appellation. A very ‘serious’ wine indeed, and certainly worthy of this scribbled tasting note. 95/100 (26/2/18)

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