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François Pinon Vouvray Cuvée 2000

François Pinon Vouvray Cuvée 2000

I have been drinking lots of wines from this domaine recently, as I hinted in my recent François Pinon tasting update, within which I reported on the most recent releases from the 2015 and 2016 vintages. I also report on some older vintages, ranging from 2003 back to 1989, in my François Pinon Retrospective. One vintage I rarely look to in Vouvray for my own drinking, though, is 2000. While this vintage turned out pretty good in Bordeaux (and some of those wines are starting to drink well), along much of the Loire Valley it was one of those vintages that comes and goes without really making an impact on the vintage charts.

The 2000 growing season in the Loire Valley started off rather cool and damp, and the summer months, especially July, followed on in much the same vein. When summer eventually got going autumn was already knocking on the door. Not for the first time in this corner of France it was favourable weather late on in the season, through August and September, which pushed the fruit towards a state of maturity, for yet another ‘saved’ vintage. The problem in 2000 was that the weather didn’t hold for long enough; in mid-October the heavens opened and the rain began, and it continued to rain for several weeks, drenching vineyards and pickers alike.

François Pinon Vouvray Cuvée 2000

The key to quality in the 2000 vintage in Vouvray (and indeed other appellations) was thus the picking date. Varieties and styles where the fruit was picked before the rains had good (although perhaps not great) potential (so early picked varieties, such as Melon de Bourgogne and Sauvignon Blanc, mostly got away with it), while those which demand later picking (Chenin Blanc, especially sweeter styles, Cabernet Franc and other reds) were mostly damned. Looking specifically at Vouvray, growers had picked for sec and demi-sec styles before the rains, but not for moelleux and moelleux première trie cuvées, for which the fruit obviously needs to concentrate on the vine. Reportedly some growers waited out the rains, and picked in November or even December to make tiny quantities of sweet wine, but I confess I am not sure I ever recall encountering a bottle.

François Pinon made sec-tendre (it is tempting to simply write sec, but the Pinon style really leans towards sec-tendre, combining cool acidity with a softening touch of residual sugar) and demi-sec wines in this vintage. The wine featured here is in the latter style, and although I am unsure of the residual sugar here I have at least noticed the curiously precise 11.9% alcohol declared on the label (this isn’t unusual for François). The Vouvray Cuvée 2000 from François Pinon has a very pale lemon-gold hue in the glass. Aromatically I find it very convincing, with a beautiful fruit intensity, the nose bursting with the scents of orange zest, with a powdery-minerally confidence, the suggestion of a salty energy and also some complex and exotic fruit aromas, especially mango, peach and even a vibrant note of pink grapefruit. This is matched by a fine structure and intensity on the palate, with a pithy and fibrous citric-fruit texture, underpinned by an incredibly fresh and cool acid backbone. It feels very typical of the Pinon style, the acidity representative of the cooler deuxième côtes around the Vallée de Cousse, although the rather cool growing season may also have played its part, I suppose. It is undeniably fresh through into the finish, pure too, with real vigour. Although somewhat short in the end, I think for seventeen years of age it has great presence. No rush to drink up here. 94/100 (22/1/18)

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