François Pinon Vouvray Moelleux 1989
When I popped the cork on a bottle of the 1995 Vouvray Moelleux Réserve from Philippe Foreau a few weeks ago, and made the comment that I should be pulling more old bottles from the cellar instead of coveting them (or simply forgetting I have them, which is perhaps closer to the truth), I meant what I wrote. Here’s some evidence to support my claim, in the shape of the 1989 Vouvray Moelleux from François Pinon.
I have to be careful when pulling one of my 1989s from François Pinon, because I have tucked away both the 1989 Moelleux (as featured here) as well as the 1989 Moelleux Cuvée Botrytisée. I have about three times as many bottles of the former than I do the latter, and although I have cellar records that tell me where all the 1989s are stacked, due to my own stupidity I did not record exactly which 1989 is where. So when I pull a bottle I have to remember to check exactly what I have laid my hands on. The bottles are very similar, only the wording on the neck label gives a clue. It’s my version of Russian Roulette, only played with Chenin Blanc rather than a revolver. Get it wrong, and it’s death by residual sugar.
Loire geeks will need no reminding, but for those less familiar with Loire Valley vintages I should point out that 1989 is not simply an attractively distant vintage, but is rather one of the truly great years of the 20th century. There are perhaps a trio of vintages of comparable standing, 1989 the most recent, the others 1947 and 1921. My knowledge of the latter two is, aside from a rare bottle or two of old Bourgueil, exclusively vicarious. And so I am grateful for 1989, which is I suppose my generation’s ‘great’ vintage (unless something comparable comes along soon… here’s hoping).
The 1989 Vouvray Moelleux from François Pinon is holding up well, but I suspect it is probably at its best now. For those horrified by such a thought, given that this is such a great vintage, I would counter with two points. First, this is effectively an entry-level moelleux cuvée, with presumably a little botrytis, but it is in a gentle style, while wines of more prodigious build from this vintage – such as the aforementioned Cuvée Botrytisée – are still on their way up. And second, while it may be at its best now, I doubt it will fade soon, as I suspect the plateau of drinking is very long here, and despite my comment I suspect this will provide a few decades of drinking yet. In the glass it has a shimmering golden hue, and the scents are reminiscent of dried pears and apples, spiced with ginger and lemon balm, and perfumed with vanilla flower. The palate certainly maintains some sweetness, possessing a lightly viscous texture, nicely polished, the grainy orchard fruits spiced with notes of white pepper, aniseed, fennel, mint and liquorice root. The finish, appropriately vigorous for a classically styled wine from a classically styled vintage, is bright, fresh, long and peppery. Overall, this has nice complexity and a long and energetic length. A good wine, certainly more delicate than the corresponding Cuvée Botrytisée, but there is still plenty to get your teeth into here. 94/100 (10/9/18)
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